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Talking to Your Doctor About Prostate Cancer

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors or experience with prostate cancer. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will help you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions before you go, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. If you don't, tell the doctor. Ask for educational materials.
  • Ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Your Risk of Developing Prostate Cancer

  • Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk of prostate cancer?
  • What can I do to lower my risk of getting prostate cancer?

About Prostate Cancer

  • What is the stage of my cancer? What does that mean?
  • Has my cancer spread beyond the prostate?

About Treatment Options

  • What treatment will work best for me? Why?
  • What should I do to be ready?
  • How long will my treatment last?
  • Will the treatment work?
  • What risks and side effects should I expect?
  • Will the treatment hinder my activities?
  • Will treatment keep me from having sex?
  • What will happen if I don't get treated?
  • What medicines can I take?
    • How will they help me?
    • Do they have side effects?
    • Will these medicines interact with other medicines, over the counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements that I am already taking?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that will help me?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Should I eat any special foods?
  • Are there any changes I should make? How do I go about it?
  • Do I need a dietitian to help me plan meals?
  • Should I start exercising?
    • What kind of exercise is best?
    • How often do I need to do it?
    • How do I get started?
  • Should I stop drinking alcohol?
  • If appropriate—how can I find help quitting smoking?
  • Will I still be able to have sex?

About Outlook

  • Can you help me find support groups for myself and my family?
  • What are the chances my cancer will come back after it's treated?
  • How will I know that my treatment worked?
  • What can I tell my wife, children, or other people in my family about my condition?
  • What is my expected outlook?
  • How often will I need checkups?

Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed October 26, 2018.

Prostate cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114483/Prostate-cancer. Updated October 16, 2018. Accessed October 26, 2018.

What should you ask your health care team about prostate cancer? American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/talking-with-doctor.html. Updated March 11, 2016. Accessed October 26, 2018.

Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 10/26/2018