Waiting for your cancer treatment to begin can be a stressful experience. If you’re dealing with worry, depression, or other stressful feelings, talking with others may be beneficial. You may also have concerns about the timing of your treatment, such as when it will begin if it can or will be postponed, and why it could be OK to start later. “How long is too long to wait?” you might think.
Does cancer treatment always need to be started right away?
It is sometimes necessary to begin therapy as soon as possible, but this is not always the case. Depending on the type and stage of your disease, planning cancer therapy can be difficult and time-consuming. There are a variety of factors that influence when treatment can or should begin. Here are some of the explanations for the discrepancies in treatment start times.
Treatment might need to be started quickly if:
- You have a type of cancer that needs to be treated right away, like some leukemias, lymphomas, and certain other cancers that tend to be aggressive (grow and spread very fast).
- You have a tumor that’s pressing on an organ or other vital part of the body, and treatment is needed to relieve the pressure.
Because their cancer does not grow as quickly as others, some patients can wait a few weeks or months to begin treatment. If treatment does not need to begin right away, it may be postponed if:
- You are waiting to get lab results back that will help decide what treatment option is best.
- You have already had surgery to remove a tumor, and you need time to recover before starting more treatment.
- You need to make adjustments at home, work, or for child care before starting treatment.
- There are other personal factors and health problems that must be worked around.
- You want more time to get a second opinion.
It’s critical to understand that each person’s situation is unique. Many factors can influence whether treatment should or should not begin. Your cancer care team should be able to answer any questions you have about when your treatment should begin because they are the most knowledgeable about your circumstance.