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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 and/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 make it easier for 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 ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. 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 specific things can I do to reduce my risk of developing 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 is appropriate for me? Why?
  • What should I do to be ready for treatment?
  • How long will my treatment last?
  • What benefits can I expect?
  • What risks and side effects should I expect?
  • Will the treatment affect my normal activities?
  • Will treatment affect my sexual activity?
  • What is likely to happen without treatment?
  • What medications are available to me?
    • What are the benefits/side effects of these medications?
    • Will these medications interact with other medications, 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 follow a special diet?
  • Are there any dietary changes I should make? How do I go about it?
  • Can you refer me to a registered dietitian to help me make dietary changes?
  • Should I begin an exercise program?
    • What kind of exercise is best?
    • How often should I exercise?
    • How do I get started exercising?
  • Should I stop drinking alcohol?
  • If appropriate—how can I find help quitting smoking?
  • How will my prostate cancer affect my sexual activity?

About Outlook

  • Can you recommend some prostate cancer support groups for myself and my family?
  • What are the chances my cancer will come back after treatment?
  • How will I know that my treatment has been effective?
  • What can I tell my wife, children, parents, other family members, and friends about my condition?
  • What is my expected prognosis?
  • How often will I need checkups?
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References

Prostate cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114483/Prostate-cancer. Updated February 18, 2017. Accessed March 30, 2017.
Talking with your doctor. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/cancer-control/en/booklets-flyers/talking-with-your-doctor-english-pdf.pdf. Updated November 17, 2015. Accessed March 30, 2017.
Tips for talking to your doctor. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated May 2014. Accessed March 30, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2017 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 9/17/2014

 

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