Is this the right doctor for me?
Once you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you will find that there are many resources that could prove helpful to your treatment.
However, you will likely have the most contact with your urologist.
Your family doctor (general practitioner) may also play a role in the process because it is important to maintain your overall level of health during your cancer treatment.
Depending on your strategy for treatment, other doctors may become involved. Some of the specialists you could encounter are radiation oncologists, medical oncologists or doctors specializing in palliative care. Usually, your urologist will remain your main point of contact and will be responsible for referring you to other specialists if necessary. This is why the most important step is to choose the right urologist.
What questions can help you choose a urologist?
The most important aspect of a good doctor-patient relationship is the ability to communicate. The doctor should be able to explain your prognosis and options clearly and should take the time to understand your needs and concerns.
Here are some questions to ask your urologist if you have gotten a prostate cancer diagnosis or you are awaiting cancer test results.
- What percentage of your practice treats prostate cancer? Though not the only important variable, you will want to work through your prostate cancer with a doctor who is experienced in treating the disease.
- How many radical prostatectomies do you do a year? Prostatectomies, a surgery to remove the prostate (or part of the prostate) after a cancer diagnosis, is a common treatment method. As with any surgical procedure, you will want an experienced surgeon to perform this operation.
- Am I a candidate for a laparoscopic prostatectomy? This is a less invasive form of prostatectomy that uses small incisions. It is good to see if you qualify for this type of surgery because it has a quicker recovery period.
- What are the side effects of this surgery? Some people report bladder control issues and erectile dysfunction after prostate removal surgery. You should ask your doctor about these potential problems.
- Do you do external radiation therapy or brachytherapy? The two main radiation treatments for prostate cancer are quite different. External beam radiation therapy involves targeting the prostate with external radiation, while brachytherapy treats cancer by implanting small radioactive pellets right in the prostate.
- What about chemotherapy? If prostate cancer has spread to other organs, it is often treated with chemotherapy. There is a lot of information about the effectiveness and side effects of chemotherapy. You should question your doctor about this so that you can have the facts about chemotherapy as it pertains to your particular type of cancer.
- Less severe forms of prostate cancer may respond to hormone therapy because androgens (male hormones), can cause the cancer cells to multiply. Ask your doctor if hormones could be effective in your case, and also learn about the side effects of this treatment.
First of all, you want a urologist who is willing to help you understand the treatment options and side effects and who wants to make sure that you know about the side effects and effectiveness of each option as it pertains to your particular disease.