I see guys like you every day in my practice. You’ve just been diagnosed with prostate cancer and you don’t know what to do. I know it’s scary. It’s overwhelming. It can be depressing.
The first thing you need to do is just breathe.
You will get through it. With help from me, your other doctors, your friends, and your family, you will get through it.
A great 2017 study showed that you should not rush to treatment.
Take your time and carefully review all of your options. Understand the pros and cons of each treatment. Get a second opinion. Maybe a third. Only then can you make a smart, informed decision.
There are a few things you need to remember as you go through the process.
First – there are no absolutes.
No treatment can absolutely guarantee cancer cure. It all comes down to the statistical likelihood of success with each treatment based on long term published data.
This goes for the chances of cancer cure as well as the associated risks and side effects of treatment.
I like to consider doctors, including myself, as medical bookies. We cannot – and should not – promise a specific outcome. We can only quote chances based on what long-term studies have shown.
Second – there is a lot of bias out there.
Everyone has an opinion. And everyone thinks they know best.
This goes for your friends and family as well as a lot of doctors.
For example, a urologist who only does robotic prostatectomy and offers no other treatment will probably justify why surgery is your only option.
Or a radiation oncologist may make a very compelling argument for why you need radiation, and that’s your only choice.
A friend or family member may tell you what you should do based on personal experience or anecdote.
The problem here is bias. You need to take everything with a grain of salt and really analyze what is best FOR YOU.
Third – there is A LOT of information out there. There are tons of websites and forums and books talking about prostate cancer treatment. It can be very overwhelming.
My suggestion is to keep a file of notes and stay organized. You need to focus on 3 things about each treatment option as you gather your data:
- The logistics of each treatment – including hospital stay vs outpatient, number of treatments, location, cost, etc..
- Cancer outcome – meaning what does the published literature tell us the likelihood of ‘cure’ with each treatment option
- Treatment-related side effects – what side effects can you expect in terms of your overall health, urinary function, and sexual function.
Do not lose sight of that third one. Quality of life is so important and needs to be included in your decision-making process.
Remember that quality of life is just as important as quantity.