Treatment Discussion Guide: How to Open a Dialogue with Your Physician
(Read time: 5 minutes)
This article is not intended to replace professional medical care or advice. If you have any questions or need additional information, please talk with your doctor.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may have a lot of questions and concerns. It’s important to fully understand your diagnosis, treatment options, and the benefits and risks of each before you and your doctor decide on your treatment plan.
Here are some questions you may consider discussing with your doctor about a prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment options.
I’ve been diagnosed. Now what?
If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, some of the questions you might consider discussing with your physician include:
- What does my PSA level mean?
- What does my Gleason score mean?
- What is the stage of my cancer?
- Has my cancer spread and if so, how far?
- What next steps should I take?
How do I decide on a treatment plan?
Questions you may consider asking your doctor about your treatment options:
- What are the treatment options for this stage of cancer? Which of these options are available at this facility?
- What will the preparation for treatment look like?
- What will the duration of each treatment be? What about the entire treatment plan?
- How soon must a decision on treatment be reached?
- What is X treatment like? When/Where/How does it happen?
- What are the expected side effects and risk factors associated with different treatment options?
- What are the chances that I will suffer from complications during or after treatment?
- What advanced technologies do you offer at this facility that can help reduce the risk of side effects?
- What treatment may be right for me?
If you’ve been seeing your primary care doctor, you may be referred to a urologist, a doctor who treats the genital and urinary tract, including the prostate. Other physicians who may help treat prostate cancer include medical oncologists and radiation oncologists. Below are questions you can consider asking these specialists about your unique diagnosis:
- What are the treatment options available to me?
- Is active surveillance, radiation therapy, or surgery to remove all or part of the prostate recommended?
- Should laparoscopic or robot-assisted prostatectomy be considered?
- Which kinds of radiation therapy would treat my cancer best?
- Are there other alternative treatments that may work?
You may also consider asking questions about how your quality of life may be impacted:
- Will there be an impact on my daily routine?
- Will I be able to continue to work?
- What activities will I still be able to do?
- What activities are not recommended during each type of treatment?
What sort of side effects may I expect during and after treatment?
- What are the known side effects of potential treatment options?
- 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?
- Should I be worried about sexual/urinary problems or bowel dysfunction after treatment has ended?
- Is there a chance the cancer will come back after treatment?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and speak your mind, so you can learn about your prostate cancer diagnosis and next steps.
Get a printer-friendly version of this discussion guide and bring it to your next appointment with your doctor.Download a prostate cancer treatment discussion guide