Talking To Your Doctor About Early Stage Prostate Cancer: What Do You Ask?
Prostate Cancer is one of the leading causes of death by cancer among men.
Simple blood screening (prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing) can often detect the cancer at an early stage. Early stage Prostate Cancer is where the cancer tumours are confined in the prostate glands and can only be detected through a biopsy.
Once diagnosed, it is likely for patients to get overwhelmed by the diagnosis and available treatment options.
It is therefore important to talk to your health team when diagnosed, before considering any treatment plan, during treatment and after treatment.
Here are some questions to consider asking.
When Diagnosed with Early Stage Prostate Cancer
- What is the “stage” and Gleason (how the cancer looks under the microscope) score of my cancer and what does it mean?
- Where can prostate cancer spread to?
- Are there other tests to be done before considering treatment options?
- What is my prognosis (chances of survival)?
When Considering a Treatment Plan
- Is active surveillance (monitoring the cancer closely) an option at this point? Why or why not?
- Should I have surgery or radiotherapy? Why or why not?
- What other treatment options are available for me? Why?
- What are the side effects?
- Will I have incontinence after surgery, and after how long will it stop?
- How do I manage incontinence when travelling?
- How much time do I have to decide on treatment?
- What should I do to prepare for treatment?
- How long will the treatment last? What will it be like?
- What are the chances of a relapse after treatment? What happens if this happens?
- How will I know if the treatment is working?
- What side effects or symptoms should I report immediately?
- What dietary changes do I need to make?
- What exercise regimen is best for me?
- Will there be follow-up sessions after treatment? If so, what type?
- Are there limitations to my daily activities? If so, for how long?
- Should I follow a specific exercise and dietary plan?
- How will I know if the cancer has come back?
- What are my available options if the cancer comes back?
These are just sample questions, be sure to write down others that may concern you personally. They do not have to be categorised as above. For instance, you may want to know if you will be able to get an erection after treatment. If making a family is in your plans, you may want to ask about the possibility of impotence or sterility.
It is crucial to talk to a health care professional about all uncertainties, risks and potential benefits of Prostate Cancer testing and treatment before making a decision whether to or not.
Source: Prostate Cancer Foundation