|There are two million people alive today in the United States who are diagnosed with Prostate Cancer.|
Questions to Ask Yourself...and then to Ask Your Doctor.
Many questions will need answers. It is important for you to have honest, open discussions with your cancer care team. They want to answer all of your questions, no matter how trivial you might think they are.
No written information can take the place of talking directly with your health care professionals. If you don't understand the answers to your questions, ask them to explain further.
Do not let your doctor’s attitude or office environment make you feel rushed. Write your questions in advance, with space for your to write notes during your visit with your doctor. Take a tape recorder with you, and turn it on! Most all doctors will allow you to tape record their consultations with you. It is in your doctors interest, as well as your own, that you feel that you are fully informed and understand all aspects of your treatment. Prostate cancer is not a disease where it is wise to leave all decision making to your doctor. For instance, consider these questions:
- Is your cancer truly confined to the prostate gland, or has it spread to nearby-or even distant-parts of your body?
- Is it aggressive or slow-growing?
- What is your general health status?
- Are you young enough so that even a slow-growing cancer might someday pose a threat?
- Are you healthy enough for surgery?
- Are you willing to risk serious, lifelong side effects to possibly reduce your chances of a cancer death?
- How important is it for you, in your work or recreation, to maintain bladder or bowel control?
- How important is it to be able to have erections?
- Would you find it too worrisome to live with an untreated cancer, too stressful to face frequent monitoring?
Ask your Doctor
- What is the likelihood that the cancer has spread beyond my prostate? If so, is it still curable?
- What additional tests do you recommend, and why?
- What is the clinical stage and grade of my cancer? What do those mean in my case?
- What is my prognosis?
- Is recurrence likely?
- Do I need additional tests to look for lymph node involvement or metastases?
- What is my expected survival rate based on clinical stage, grade, and various treatment options?
- Would I have the same survival rate if I chose no treatment and went on with my life?
- Do you recommend attending support groups, and why?
- Where do you suggest I get a second opinion on my pathology report and on my treatment recommendations?
- What other doctors should I talk with a -medical oncologist/cancer specialist, a surgeon, a radiation oncologist?
- How much experience does the doctor have? How many times a year does he perform this procedure? If a surgeon, is s/he familiar with nervesparing techniques?
- Do you recommend a radical prostatectomy or radiation? Why or why not?
- If you recommend radical prostatectomy, will it be nerve sparing? Will it be robotic or laparoscopic? What are the differences in the surgical procedures? What are the differences in outcomes?
- What do you mean by long term and short term?
- How long would I live if I did no treatment?
- How many of the procedures that you are recommending have you done during the last year and during the last three years?
- What other treatment(s) might be appropriate for me? Why?
- Please explain IMRT, Brachytherapy, Hormone depravation therapy, alternative treatments.
- Among those treatments, what are the risks or side effects that I should expect?
- What are the chances that I will have problems with incontinence or impotence?
- What are the chances that I will have other urinary or rectal problems?
- What are the chances of recurrence of my cancer with the treatment programs we have discussed?
- Should I follow a special diet? Should I exercise differently than I already do?
- What might have caused my diagnosis of prostate cancer?
In addition to these sample questions, be sure to write down some of your own. For instance, you might want to ask about recovery time so that you can plan your work schedule. If you are younger, you may want to discuss your plans for children if there is a possibility you could become impotent or sterile. You also may want to ask about third opinions with a medical oncologist or about clinical trials.