How to talk to your doctor
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 minor you might think they are. For instance, consider asking these questions:
• What are the chances that the cancer has spread beyond my prostate? If so, is it still curable?
• What further tests (if any) do you recommend, and why?
• What is the clinical stage and Gleason score (grade) of my cancer? What do those mean in my case?
• What is my expected survival rate based on clinical stage, grade, and various treatment options?
• Should I consider watchful waiting as an option? Why or why not?
• Do you recommend a radical prostatectomy or radiation? Why or why not?
• If you recommend radical prostatectomy, will it be nerve sparing?
• Should I consider laparoscopic or robot-assisted prostatectomy?
• What types of radiation therapy might work best for me?
• What other treatment(s) might be right for me? Why?
• 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? What would be our next step if this happened?
• Should I follow a special diet?
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 second opinions or about clinical trials for which you may qualify.
- Source: American Cancer Society, 2008