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Prostate Cancer

Questions to Ask About Prostate Cancer

If you've been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s important to have honest, open discussions with your cancer care team.

You should feel free to ask any question, no matter how small it might seem. Here are some questions you might want to ask:

When you’re told you have prostate cancer

  • What are the chances that the cancer has spread beyond my prostate? If so, is it still curable?
  • Do I need any other tests before we decide on treatment?
  • Should I see any other types of doctors before deciding on treatment?
  • What is the clinical stage and grade (Gleason score or Grade Group) of my cancer? What do those mean for me?
  • Which risk group does my cancer fall into? What does this mean?
  • If I’m concerned about the costs and insurance coverage for my diagnosis and treatment, who can help me?

When deciding on a treatment plan

  • How likely is my cancer to cause problems if I’m not treated right away?
  • Should I consider observation (watchful waiting) or active surveillance as an option? Why or why not?
  • If I’m choosing to be treated, are both surgery and radiation therapy options for me? What are the pros and cons of each?
  • What types of radiation therapy might work best for me?
  • What other treatment(s) might be right for me? Why?
  • Am I eligible for any clinical trials?
  • 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?
  • If these side effects happen, are they treatable?
  • 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 might 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?

During treatment

Once treatment begins, you’ll need to know what to expect and what to look for. Not all of these questions may apply to you, but getting answers to the ones that do may be helpful.

  • How will we know if the treatment is working?
  • Is there anything I can do to help manage side effects?
  • What symptoms or side effects should I tell you about right away?
  • How can I reach you or someone on your team on nights, holidays, or weekends?
  • Do I need to change what I eat during treatment?
  • Are there any limits on what I can do?
  • Do you know of any local or online support groups where I can talk to others who have been through this?
  • Can you suggest a mental health professional I can see if I start to feel overwhelmed, depressed, or distressed?

After treatment

  • Are there any limits on what I can do?
  • What symptoms or side effects should I watch for?
  • Should I exercise or follow a special diet?
  • How often will I need follow-up exams and tests? What tests will I need?
  • How will we know if the cancer has come back? What should I watch for?
  • What will my options be if the cancer comes back?

Along with these examples, be sure to write down some questions 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 how treatment might affect this.

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, can answer some of your questions. To find out more about speaking with your health care team, see The Doctor-Patient Relationship.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: November 22, 2023

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