You’ve been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer and the first question to ask your doctor is, what happens next? Hearing this news will begin a journey no man expects or wants to take. Heightened feelings of fear of the unknown always accompany a cancer diagnosis.
But here’s what I tell my patients – ask whatever questions you want, trust and follow my advice, and begin practicing healthy lifestyle habits. Do this, and you’ve already begun acting and thinking like a cancer survivor. When men feel utter despair and hopelessness, their battle with this disease is at risk.
However, I know all men will have questions. Every man deserves to have his questions answered honestly, helping them make decisions on various topics. Yet, dealing with a possibly life-threatening disease is scary, and it may be difficult to know what questions to ask.
Here is a list of questions I recommend men (and their families) should ask their doctor while treating their prostate cancer. Such a list can help men think of questions they may not have thought of that can be a literal life-saver in the future.
Questions to ask when first diagnosed:
- What is my risk of early-stage cancer progressing over time? Do I need to begin treatment right away?
- How do you know I have cancer?
- What is the grade of my cancer – low, intermediate, or high?
- How advanced is my cancer – stage I, II, III, or IV?
- Is my prostate cancer hereditary?
- Explain to me what treatment options you recommend for my stage of prostate cancer.
- Do you recommend I need a second opinion? Can I explore other treatment options or speak with other specialists, such as urologists or radiation oncologists, before making a decision?
- Can you tell me about what side effects I may experience depending on the treatment?
- How many men with prostate cancer do you treat yearly using surgery or radiation?
- What do you recommend I do to start practicing a healthier lifestyle? How can I enhance my success in beating back this disease?
- How curable is my stage of prostate cancer? What is the overall outlook for my disease?
- Will I have problems performing sexually, or with urinary continence, or bladder control?
- How often will I see you for follow-up visits? What about after my treatment is done; how often will I be seen to make sure my cancer has not returned?
- Do you recommend I enroll in a clinical trial?
Questions to ask when considering active surveillance or taking a “watch and wait” approach:
- Is active surveillance a good option for me and my stage of prostate cancer?
- How will I be monitored for any changes in my prostate cancer, making sure it is not progressing? How frequently will I need additional PSA tests or digital rectal exams?
- Will I need a repeat biopsy and will this information help decide if I need surgery or radiation?
- Will you be my doctor who follows me during this time?
- What steps can I take to keep myself healthy during active surveillance?
Questions to ask when considering surgery:
- Describe which surgical technique you use – will it be open, laparoscopic, or robotic?
- Why is your SMART surgery superior over other types of surgery for prostate cancer?
- Does your SMART surgery use a nerve-sparing technique helping prevent damage to areas that still allow me to get an erection after surgery?
- Tell me your success rate in preserving sexual functioning and urinary incontinence.
- What happens if you discover that my prostate cancer has spread beyond the confines of the prostate? Does this change my prognosis and any treatments in the future?
- How worried should be concerned about blood loss after surgery?
- What amount of recovery time will I need after surgery? How soon can I go back to work and normal activities?
- What short-term and long-term side effects can I possibly have after surgery? How will they be treated?
- How closely will I be monitored following prostate cancer surgery?
Questions to ask when considering radiation:
- Tell me about the technique radiation uses to get rid of prostate cancer.
- Why and when should I consider radiation treatment? Do you recommend it at all?
- Will radiation treatment leave normal tissue intact and unharmed? How can I be guaranteed that?
- What specific radiation treatments should I consider or that you recommend?
- Can you tell me what is the dosage amount of radiation used and is there a possibility that can lead to a secondary cancer?
- How likely will radiation possibly lead to erectile dysfunction or urinary incontinence?
- How long is the recovery time for radiation and how soon can I return to normal activities?
- Will have I side effects from radiation and what kind might I have?
- How closely will you monitor my prostate cancer after my radiation treatments are completed?
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.