BACKGROUND: The decision to undergo chemotherapy for incurable cancer demands informed discussions about the risks and benefits of proposed treatments. Research has shown that many patients have a poor grasp of these factors.
METHODS: An evaluation of the patient experience of palliative chemotherapy decision-making was undertaken. Patients with lung or gynaecological cancers were surveyed about their decision, what they understood about its risks and benefits, and how supported they felt.
RESULTS: A total of 29 people with lung cancer (n = 21) or gynaecological cancer (n = 8) completed questionnaires. The majority felt sure about their decision, though many were less sure of the risks and benefits of treatment. Unprompted comments revealed significant nuance, including that the decision to undergo chemotherapy may not necessarily have felt like a choice.
CONCLUSIONS: Our positive findings may reflect participant selection bias, or could represent genuine comfort in decision-making in Scottish oncology clinics. Further research is needed.