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Prostate Cancer Questions to Ask Your Doctor -- and Yourself

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After you’ve had an initial conversation with your doctor, there are questions that you should ask yourself. Because prostate cancer treatments can have an impact on sexual function and quality of life, it’s important to sit down to talk with your partner. Here’s what to consider:

Do I feel comfortable with my doctor?

Treatment of prostate cancer can be complicated. Even after treatment is completed, you will need follow-up care. You should feel confident that your doctor listens, understands, and provides you all the information you need. You should also have confidence in your doctor’s expertise. If you have doubts, find another doctor.

Do I understand everything I’ve been told?

Understanding your particular grade and stage of prostate cancer and making sense of complicated treatment options isn’t easy, especially at a time when you’re already under stress. If you don’t understand something your doctor has discussed with you, ask more questions. Search out reputable sources in books or on the Internet. The more you understand, the more comfortable you’ll feel with your treatment decisions.

What about my loved ones? How will my decision affect them?

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.

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