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Prostate Cancer Questions to Ask Your Doctor -- and Yourself

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A diagnosis of cancer affects everyone in the family. Close family members may have their own feelings about what you should or shouldn't do. Take their feelings into account. But remember: the most important consideration is ultimately what you want. Because treatment can affect sexual function and quality of life, discuss your choices with your partner. An open and honest discussion before making your choice will help you both cope with unwanted consequences of surgery or radiation.

How comfortable would I feel monitoring the cancer and waiting until I need treatment?

With early detection, watchful waiting has become the appropriate choice for a growing number of men. Some men are comfortable with the idea of waiting and watching. Others aren’t. "About one third of men who undergo treatment after beginning active surveillance do so not because the cancer has changed but because they don’t like living with the cancer,” says Carroll. In some cases, learning more about the tests that are used to monitor prostate cancer can help allay fears.

How do I feel about surgery versus radiation therapy?

In some cases, there may be strong reasons to choose surgery or radiation. Surgery is a good choice if the cancer hasn’t spread beyond the prostate and you’re in otherwise good health, for instance. Radiation may be a better choice if the cancer has spread or your health would make an operation risky. But in many cases either approach may work just as effectively. Then it becomes more important to weigh the risks and to think carefully about the approach you prefer. “It’s important to weigh all the options,” says Scher. “But ultimately the best choice is the one that you feel most comfortable with.”

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Reviewed on February 26, 2010

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