Prostate Cancer

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Talking With Your Doctor TOPICS

What should you ask your doctor about prostate cancer?

It’s 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?
  • Are there other types of doctors I should talk to before deciding on treatment?
  • What is the clinical stage and Gleason score (grade) of my cancer? What do those mean to me? Does this make me a low-risk, intermediate-risk or high-risk patient?
  • What is my expected survival rate based on clinical stage, grade, and various treatment options?
  • Should I consider active surveillance as an option? Why or why not?
  • Do you recommend a radical prostatectomy or radiation? Why or why not?
  • 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?
  • What risks or side effects should I expect from my 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?
  • How quickly do I need to decide on treatment?
  • What should I do to be ready for treatment?
  • How long will treatment last? What will it be like? Where will it be done?
  • How would treatment affect my daily activities?
  • What are the chances my cancer will come back with the treatment plans we have discussed? What would be our next step if this happened?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
  • Where can I find more information and support?

Along with 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 or activity schedule. If you still might want to have children, ask if there is a possibility you could become impotent or sterile. You also might want to ask if you qualify for any clinical trials.

Keep in mind that doctors aren’t the only ones who can give you information. Other health care professionals, such as nurses and social workers, may have the answers to some of your questions. You can find out more about speaking with your health care team in our document Talking With Your Doctor.

Last Medical Review: 12/22/2014
Last Revised: 03/12/2015