Secondly, some of these situations are life threatening, for example, the bowel obstruction. In these situations the operation achieves two things—as well as temporarily getting rid of some symptoms it may also temporarily prolong your life. This is not necessarily a good thing, given that the operation does nothing to change the extent of your disease. Unless you are having treatment which could cure you, you will still die of cancer sooner or later anyway. It is possible that to die sooner of a bowel obstruction could be better than to do so later of some other complication of cancer.

If your situation is not life threatening, for example, a broken bone or a spinal cord under pressure, your decision is relatively straightforward. You basically need to find out simply what difference the operation is likely to make to the quality of your life. What chance is there that pain will be relieved? What chance is there that you will be able to walk after the operation? How soon after? How long would you be in hospital? What is your chance of surviving the operation? What will happen if you don’t have the operation? Is there any other way of relieving the symptoms?


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