Cancer diagnosis - what to expect and where to get help

Being told you may have cancer can be extremely stressful and cause anger, shock, helplessness or confusion. Not everyone has the same experience and all feelings are normal.

Where to get help and support

A cancer diagnosis can be a difficult thing to come to grips with and it often has a profound impact on not just patients but also their family, friends and loved ones.

Getting support is important and can come from friends, family, health care professionals or specialised support services.

Help can be much more than just medical treatment. There are many cancer support services available, such as:

  • support groups
  • counselling
  • advice
  • financial assistance
  • transportation to and from treatment
  • information about cancer.

You can discuss the help you may require with your Doctor or call Cancer Council on 13 11 20 for information and support.

Working out your treatment options

When cancer is suspected or diagnosed, ask your health professionals to explain the options available so you can make an informed decision. Everyone’s cancer care pathway can vary. The likely steps involved to determine your treatment options are:

  • Further tests to confirm your diagnosis.
  • Appointment with specialists such as a surgeon, Radiation Oncologists, Medical Oncologist or Haematologist.
  • Referral to a cancer multidisciplinary team to review your case and recommend a treatment plan for you. Your specialist will discuss the recommended treatment plan and you will then have an opportunity to ask the specialist questions. Together you will agree to a treatment plan that is tailored to you.
  • Referrals and appointments to other health care professionals who work in cancer care.
  • Referral to your nearest cancer centre or hospital that can provide the cancer care you require such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Cancer care pathway

A cancer care pathway is a way of describing the whole cancer journey from prevention and detection to treatment and follow up. A pathway is based on the type of cancer that has been diagnosed and the treatment options available for that cancer. However everyone’s journey is individual and the pathway may vary.

A multidisciplinary team of health professionals discuss which cancer pathway is required and develop a treatment plan to include all your medical, physical and supportive care needs.

Treatment locations

Cancer treatments are provided at a number of SA hospitals including metropolitan, rural, public and private hospitals based on services required and availability. The closest available cancer centre that can safely provide the required treatment will be recommended.