Talking with healthcare providers about cancer can be overwhelming. It can be hard to take in all of the information. It helps to be prepared. Make a list of questions and bring them to your appointments. Write the answers down in a notebook. Make sure you ask how the treatment will change your daily life, including your diet. Ask how you will look and feel after treatment. Ask how successful the treatment is expected to be, and what the risks and possible side effects are.
You may also want to ask a friend or family member to go with you. They can take notes and write down the answers, and also ask questions you may not think of. You can also ask your healthcare provider if you can record the conversation.
Below are some questions to ask during your appointments.
What is the grade and stage of my cancer?
What is my prostate cancer risk group?
Has the cancer spread anywhere else in my body?
What are the treatment choices?
Do I need to be treated right away?
Is active surveillance or observation (watchful waiting) a choice?
What treatments do you think are best for me and why?
What treatments do you think are not for me and why?
Are there factors like my age or health that affect my treatment choices?
Do I need surgery? What type of surgery and what are the risks? How long will it take to recover?
Do I need radiation therapy? What type of radiation will be used?
What are the goals of the treatment you are recommending?
Does treatment affect my sexual ability, desire, or ability to have children in the future?
What is the success rate of this treatment for my stage of prostate cancer?
Are there any clinical trials I should apply for?
What is the length of the treatment period?
Are treatment medicines given by pill or by an infusion in my vein?
How long will each treatment take?
Where do I have to go for the treatment?
Who will give me the treatment?
Does someone need to go with me during treatments?
Can I drive or take public transportation to treatment?
Can I take my other medicines during treatment?
Do you have someone on staff who can help me with transportation, finances, and other resources?
What side effects should I expect?
How long will side effects last?
Are there side effects that I need to call you about?
How do I reach you after hours and on weekends or holidays?
What can I do to ease the side effects?
Should I change my diet? What foods can't I eat?
Will I be able to go to work and be around my family and friends?
Are there support groups nearby or online that I can join? Is there a counselor I can talk to?
How will I feel after the treatment?
Can I exercise or should I follow a special diet?
What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
How will we know if treatment worked?
What are my choices if the treatment doesn't work or the cancer comes back?