What if I don’t want the treatment that’s being offered?

Part of the informed consent process includes letting you ask questions about other treatments that may help you or other options that you may prefer. You may choose other options, even if they’re not as well proven as the one your doctor recommends. And you may refuse a certain treatment, surgery, or procedure without refusing all care. For instance, you may choose to refuse surgery but still wish to be treated for infection or pain. But keep in mind that your doctor isn’t required to go along with your plan. It may be up to you to find someone who will treat you with such an approach, so you may need to seek care elsewhere – with another doctor or facility.

As mentioned earlier, if you are competent to make your own medical decisions, you have the right to refuse any and all medical treatment and diagnostic procedures. Even if not treating the disease or condition means that the person will die, US courts have mostly agreed that patients have the right to reject treatment.

If you have decided to refuse treatment or diagnostic tests, the health provider may inform you of the risks or likely outcomes of this choice so that you can make an informed refusal. You might be asked to sign a form that states you received this information, and that you still choose not to be treated. If you don’t want to sign the form, the doctor may ask witnesses to sign that you were so informed.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: May 20, 2016 Last Revised: July 28, 2014

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