Planning ahead when living with cancer: What is advance care planning?

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Planning ahead when living with cancer: What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning helps your loved ones and healthcare team understand what your wishes are when it comes to your medical treatment and future care. It can be a good idea to document your views and wishes about your future care. This means they can try to make sure your wishes are followed if you become very unwell and cannot make or communicate a decision.

Advanced care planning is sometimes referred to as ACP. In Scotland it is called Anticipatory Care Planning.

What can I do to prepare for my advance care plan?

Before filling out your advance care plan, ask yourself ‘what matters to me?’. You can keep a note of your thoughts and feelings. You may also find it helpful to talk to family and friends and your healthcare team.

What do I include in an advance care plan?

When we refer to your future care, this means how you want to be cared for if you are ever unable to make decisions for yourself.

This might be:

  • Who you would like to be involved in your care, for example, family or friends.
  • Who you would like to make decisions about your care if you become unable to make the decisions yourself.
  • Where you would most like to be cared for when you cannot look after yourself or when you are dying. For example at home, in a hospice, care home or in a hospital.
  • What kind of care and treatments you would prefer.
  • Any tests or treatments you would not want to have if you become more unwell.
  • Any spiritual or religious beliefs you would like to be included in your care.

How can I plan ahead?

There are different things you can do to plan ahead. You do not have to do them all. It may be helpful to start with the ones that are most important to you: 

You may it helpful to use our checklist for planning ahead.   

Can someone help me with advance care planning?

Yes, your healthcare team and cancer care team, family and friends can help you with your advance care plan. You can update your advance care plan at any time. A solicitor can help you with appointing a power of attorney or making a record of any treatment you do not wish to have in certain situations. You can find out more information here:

Do you have any more information about advance care planning?

Yes, we have more information about advance care planning on our website.

We also have written resources about end of life in easy read format that are available to order from

Other sources of support

Different organisations provide information and support. Some provide documents or care plans you can complete by yourself or with support from family, friends and health or care professionals.

These include: