It is always your choice whether or not you wish to continue treatment.

At some point, you may decide to stop receiving anticancer treatment. This is a very personal choice. Your decision does not need to be final – you can change your mind at any time.

Some people choose to take a break from treatment to give them a chance to enjoy the important things in life without the side effects or demands of anticancer treatment.

Others make a choice to stop treatment when they feel that the possible benefits of treatment no longer outweigh the side effects or impact on their life. Equally, some people much prefer to keep trying different treatments, including through clinical trials.

If you choose to stop anticancer treatment, you can still receive other treatments and care to reduce any symptoms you have.

It’s important to understand that if you stop anticancer treatment for good, your illness is likely to worsen faster than it would otherwise. Your treatment team can answer questions about this and provide advice.

They can also provide information and advice on planning for the end of your life. When thinking about pausing or stopping treatment, you may want to get the views of your friends and family.

Be honest with yourself and others about what you want. Be prepared that your loved ones may find it upsetting or difficult to hear the news that you wish to stop receiving anticancer treatment. Equally, they may be very supportive and respectful of your choice.

You and your family may wish to have emotional support and counselling at this time.

You don’t have to stop receiving treatment if you want to continue trying different options. There are often more treatments you could try – by going on a clinical trial for example.

Claire Grainger, Macmillan Lead Breast Care Nurse at St Margaret's Hospital discusses the decision to stop treatment

Information Standard

Information last reviewed: October 2015

Next review due: October 2018

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