Understanding Prostate Cancer: Explore Your Options
If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s important to explore all options related to prostate cancer treatment. Below, learn what’s next, what questions to ask the doctor, and what treatments are available.
Finding an Oncologist
The first step on your prostate cancer treatment journey is to find an oncologist whom you trust. It may seem overwhelming to choose an oncologist. First, start with referrals from your primary care physician or insurance carrier. Talk to family and friends who may have recommendations.
Here are some things to consider once you’ve compiled a list of potential oncologists:
- Is the oncologist board certified?
- How much experience does he or she have in treating lprostate cancer?
- Do you feel comfortable talking with this doctor? Does he or she listen well?
- Is the staff compassionate? Is the environment a good one or do you feel rushed?
- What hospital(s) does this oncologist see patients in?
- What are the office hours?
- What if you have an emergency? Can you call?
- Can this doctor be contacted after hours?
You will be spending a lot of time with your oncologist and staff nurses and technicians, so it’s important that you feel comfortable with them.
Choosing a Cancer Center
Choosing where to receive treatment is just as important as selecting an oncologist. It’s good to know the differences between hospitals. Here are some guidelines:
- Academic cancer centers: These are affiliated with medical schools. At these locations, high priority is put on research. They are usually located in large cities.
- Community cancer centers: The main focus is on patient care.
- Cancer centers: These are noted for a high quality of science and research.
Some questions to ask before choosing where to get your treatment include:
- Volume: how many prostate cancer surgeries does the center do annually?
- Travel: how far do you want to travel? Would there be extra costs?
- Cost: is the hospital covered by your insurance plan?
- Accreditations: what accreditations does the hospital hold?
It’s helpful to understand the possible treatments for prostate cancer. Following are overviews of the most common treatments. Reading these should help you know what to expect, what the potential side effects are, and what the advantages are to each.
In deciding which treatment to have, you and your doctor will consider factors like:
- Your age
- Grade of the tumor (Gleason score)
- Stage of cancer
- Number of biopsy cells that contain cancer
- Symptoms you’re having
- Your general health
- Possible side effects of treatments
There are 5 main treatment options for prostate cancer. Click on the treatment type to read more:
Some men have a combination of these treatments.
Questions for Your Doctor
You may want to ask your doctor these questions before choosing your treatment:
- What is the grade of the tumor?
- What is the stage of the disease? Has the cancer spread? Do any lymph nodes show signs of cancer?
- What is the goal of treatment? What are my treatment choices? Which do you recommend for me? Why?
- What are the expected benefits of each type of treatment?
- What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment? How can side effects be managed?
- What can I do to prepare for treatment?
- Will I need to stay in the hospital? If so, for how long?
- How will treatment affect my normal activities? Will it affect my sex life? Will I have urinary problems? Will I have bowel problems?
- What will the treatment cost? Will my insurance cover it?
- Would a clinical trial (research study) be appropriate for me?
- Can you recommend other doctors who could give me a second opinion about my treatment options?