Resources: Who does what
When a patient and his family are experiencing distress or difficulties, there are a number of people in the hospital setting who can help. Who to turn to depends first and foremost on the nature of the problem, but also on your preferences. To make an informed decision, you should discuss the matter with your attending physician or any other member of your healthcare team involved in his medical follow-up. You can obtain help from several sources at once, or first from one and then another professional.
Here is a list of the different members of the medical team with whom you could be in contact with throughout your journey.
A family physician – also known as a general practitioner – is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illnesses and injuries and plays an important part in a person’s general healthcare before, during and after cancer treatments. He will consider your overall health and refer you, if necessary, to the right specialist.
A urologist is a doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect the genital-urinary tract system of men and women. This specialist treats the following disorders and diseases:
- Prostate problems such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis (infection) and cancer
- Obstruction of the urinary tract
- Urinary tract infections
- Testicular cancer
- Bladder disorders, such as incontinence, overactive bladder, interstitial cystitis, stones, neurogenic bladder and cancer
- Kidney disorders, including lithiasis and cancer
- Penile problems, including erectile dysfunction, Peyronie’s disease and cancer
- Reproductive health system and infertility
- Trauma inflicted on genital organs
- Urological problems specific to children
For any problem mentioned above, do not hesitate to consult your family doctor who will refer you to a urologist.
The radiation oncologist specializes in the treatment of cancer by radiation therapy. Depending on the type of tumor, its site and its spread, the radiation oncologist will decide on the best radiation procedure, dosage and the number of treatments required. If your urologist feels that radiation therapy is the best method to treat your cancer, he will refer you to this specialist.
A radiation therapist helps plan and deliver your treatment and manage side effects.
Radiologists are doctors who read and interpret x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs and other scans to diagnose diseases. A radiologist performs biopsies guided by x-rays or ultrasound.
The oncologist is a physician specializing in chemotherapy treatments, which involve the use of drugs to treat cancer. This professional has extensive experience in the alleviation of physical symptoms, such as pain, as well as in the relief of emotional, psychological and moral problems. If hormone therapy has no effect on cancer, you may be referred to an oncologist for chemotherapy. In some clinical trials, chemotherapy may be used in combination with other types of treatments.
Specialist in palliative care
The expertise of the palliative care physician is entirely focused on treatments to relieve the symptoms of a disease, which are similar to the symptoms of end-stage cancer. The goal of treatment is to reduce the symptoms associated with the disease, including pain, and to optimize the patient’s functional capacity and quality of life.
Nurses are specially trained to meet the medical needs of patients on a daily basis and provide them with the necessary support. For example, a nurse assigned to care for patients with prostate cancer as well as helping their family, should:
- provide information about the disease, its treatments and side effects, and answer some questions about it;
- help patients adjust to the side effects of treatments and refer them to a specialist;
- administer medications as prescribed by the physician and monitor side effects;
- listen to the emotional, psychological and physical needs of patients and refer accordingly (eg, to a CLSC or social worker).
The psychiatrist is a medical specialist who can diagnose psychosocial problems, evaluate underlying physical disorders and prescribe medication. The psychiatrist can also treat patients for pain. A psychiatrist can help the patient physically as well as psychologically.
The psychologist can help in coping with emotional or psychological reactions to the disease and its treatment. He or she can also help in understanding the reactions of family members. The goal of consulting a psychologist is to improve quality of life, psychological health and the patient’s and the family’s coping capabilities.
A sex therapist can help the patient and the couple overcome physical problems or learn how to live with them. For example, the sex therapist provides guidance if the man is unable to achieve erections naturally and the couple is learning how to integrate a medical treatment (oral medication, MUSE or any other type of treatment) into their sex life. The therapist also helps the couple explore other facets of their sexuality and new ways of expressing their love for each other.
Sexuality can take a number of forms and still be fulfilling for both partners, as long as it remains a way for the couple to communicate and express their shared happiness. If the man is undergoing hormone therapy and has therefore lost his sex drive, the sex therapist helps the patient and the couple deal with the situation to prevent suffering, depression and guilt.
Pharmacists prepare cancer drugs and other medicines and explain how they work. A pharmacist will tell you how often to take your drugs. They also explain any care you need to take such as eating certain foods or things to avoid while taking a drug. A pharmacist also tells you about side effects and how to deal with them.
A dietitian teaches you about healthy eating and helps with eating problems that may be a side effect of cancer treatment.
Physiotherapists, or physical therapists, help you maintain or restore a level of fitness through strength and endurance exercises. They teach exercises and physical activities to keep muscles strong and flexible or restore strength and movement.
The role of the social worker is to promote the social functioning of the patient. The social worker works with the patient and his family. He or she may also assist the patient with procedures for obtaining financial assistance required during cancer treatments. The social worker also works with the healthcare team to organize the patient’s discharge from the hospital with the help of resources in the community (CLSC, rehabilitation centres, etc.)
The spiritual advisor offers religious and spiritual support to people who are hospitalized and their loved ones.
The volunteer gives time, energy and services to those who need it. Volunteers play an important role in the support system offered by hospitals.
You will most likely encounter many of these resource people who can help you. However, once a diagnosis of prostate cancer has been established, your primary treating physician will be the urologist. In addition, your family doctor will need to be informed of the diagnosis in order to be able to monitor your overall health. Your urologist is likely to refer you to a radiation oncologist, an oncologist or a palliative care physician.
You can also participate in the management of your care by keeping a personal medical record on your health condition and by ensuring that all your doctors receive a copy of your tests results. During each medical visit, you can inform your doctor of your discussions with other specialists. This will facilitate communication between each health care provider responsible for your care.
We are here for you
Our urology healthcare professionals are there to listen, support and answer questions from patients, their families, the general public and healthcare professionals. Feel free to contact them.
Also take the time to visit each of our pages on this website, as well as our YouTube channel, in order to get familiar with the disease, with our expert lectures, our section on available resources, the support that is offered to you, our events and ways to get involve to advance the cause.