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Hematology. 2012 Sep;17(5):249-54. doi: 10.1179/1607845412Y.0000000022.

Guidelines on obtaining consent for systemic anti-cancer therapy in adults.

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  • 1Royal Marsden Hospital, Surrey, UK.


This guideline, initially drawn up for use in the UK, is essentially based on ethical principles and should be applicable across other jurisdictions. The document specifically addresses the issues which surround obtaining consent from adults for the administration of systemic anti-cancer therapy in the haemato-oncology setting. Consenting to a treatment or procedure is a complex medical, ethical, and legal issue. The process of obtaining consent and the general steps that should be taken by the healthcare professional involved in obtaining consent from a patient are discussed, and the potential legal and ethical pitfalls which can be encountered are outlined. Of fundamental importance are the requirements that agreement must be given voluntarily, based on adequate information, and the patient must have the ability to understand and retain the information given and be in a position to use it in order to reach a decision. The consenting process should include an explanation of the expected outcomes and possible side effects of treatment even if these are unlikely to occur, and the nature of the consenting process undertaken should be clearly documented. Obtaining consent in an emergency situation is also discussed, as is the process of consenting in individuals with impaired capacity or special needs. Withdrawal of consent and refusal of treatment are also considered.

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