Questions to Ask About Treatment for Prostate Cancer
At first, the information you learn about treatment options may seem overwhelming. You may ease the stress by allowing yourself the time to gather as much information as possible about your disease and its treatment. That way, you can discuss the issues with your doctors, nurses, and loved ones.
You may find it helpful to make a list of your questions before seeing your doctor. Use the list of questions below as a starting place for the questions you might ask. To make it easier to remember what your doctor says, take notes during meetings or ask if you can record the conversation. It may also help to have a family member or friend with you to take part in the discussion, take notes, or just listen.
Do I need to be treated right away? Is active surveillance (watchful waiting) an option?
What treatments do you think are best for me and why?
What treatments do you think are not for me and why?
What is the success rate of this particular treatment for my type and stage of prostate cancer?
Can I take my other medicines during the treatment period?
What is the length of the treatment period?
How long will each treatment take?
Where do I have to go for the treatment?
Who is involved in giving me the treatment?
Does someone need to go with me during treatments?
How will I feel after the treatment?
What side effects can I expect to have?
How long will side effects last?
Are there side effects that I need to call you about?
What can I do to ease the side effects?
Will I be able to go to work and be around my family?
Should I change my diet? What foods can’t I eat?
What would my options be if the treatment doesn't work or if the cancer comes back?
Are there any clinical trials I should look into?
Are there support groups nearby that I can join?
Now is the time to be very honest with yourself about what side effects you can and cannot tolerate. Your first impulse may be to choose the treatment that destroys your cancer at any cost. However, once your cancer is gone, the side effects of the treatment may become more bothersome than you thought. It is your doctor’s duty to tell you what those side effects might be before the treatment, but it’s up to you to think about them seriously before making a decision.
For example, if you’re considering the watching and waiting approach, you might ask yourself if you can live with your cancer for a long time. If you think that you would worry constantly about whether cancer remained in your prostate, then you may want to choose a more aggressive treatment. However, you also have to consider the side effects of those treatments. Prostate cancer treatments can cause an inability to control urination called incontinence, problems getting erections called erectile dysfunction, and other side effects. In either case, you should discuss your concerns with your doctor before making a decision.