Cancer and cancer care can raise difficult ethical issues for patients, their families and care providers. Questions they may face include:
- What should patients do when they do not understand what their care team is saying?
- What should patients do when they feel they are being left out of treatment decisions?
- Who should make decisions for patients who cannot communicate or decide for themselves?
- When should life-sustaining treatments be started or stopped?
MD Anderson’s Ethics Consultation Service (ECS) can help resolve issues like these. The ECS is staffed with trained clinical ethicists, as well as members of MD Anderson’s Clinical Ethics Consultation Committee. They work with patients, caregivers and care providers to explore specific ethical issues.
The ECS will then offer advice and help identify ethically supportable choices. It does not make decisions for the people involved. Patients, family members and the care team decide whether to follow the ECS’ guidance.
Any patient, family member, guardian, surrogate decision-maker or health care professional may ask for an ethics consultation. All consultations are confidential, and services are free.
Contact the Ethics Consultation Service
Clinical Ethicists are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During office hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m.) please call 713-792-8775.
After hours, please page the on-call ethicists at 713-404-2863 or through MD Anderson’s page operator at 713-792-7090.