If you've been newly diagnosed with prostate cancer, you and your family are probably trying to decide what’s next. With several different approaches to prostate cancer treatment available, it’s normal to have a lot of questions about which is best for you and what to expect. Read on for answers to some of those questions and guidance to help you decide which treatment options are right for you.
Your oncologist will be sharing a lot of important details with you and it can be hard to remember it all. To stay organized, we suggest getting a notebook to keep a record of important information. This can include information such as how you’re feeling and what medicines or supplements you’re taking, to any questions, thoughts, or observations you have regarding appointments and procedures. Try to put a date on everything you log down.
What Questions Should I Ask My Oncologist?
You'll probably have to wait at least a few days between your diagnosis and your first oncology appointment. You and your loved ones will likely spend a lot of time discussing your cancer diagnosis and no doubt, as you are right now, researching the internet for what you might hear in the appointment.
As you go through your research process, write down any questions that come up so you remember to ask the oncologist, the benefits specialist, or the other cancer specialists you’ll meet on your first visit. Common questions include:
- Does my prostate cancer require treatment right away?
- If it does, what are my treatment options?
- Are there treatment side effects?
- Will the treatment result in long lasting effects on the bladder or rectum?
- How long does treatment last?
- Will I need to have prostate cancer surgery?
- Are there activities I should avoid or add to my routine?
- What should my diet consist of?
- Can I continue taking my supplements? Should I add any additional supplements?
- Will I still visit my primary care doctor?
- Are there any prostate cancer clinical trials I should consider?
- How likely is my cancer to recur after treatment?
- Should my family get genetic testing?
- Are there credible resources where I can learn more information about Prostate Cancer? (ACS, NIH, NCI, Prostate Cancer Foundation, etc)
What Will Happen at My First Oncology Appointment?
Most Arizona Oncology prostate cancer doctors strongly recommend that first-time patients bring a friend or loved one along to provide support, ask questions and help take notes. Our Your First Visit section will help you understand what your initial appointment may include, what you should bring, and more questions to ask.
Should I Get a Second Opinion?
You may have received a prostate cancer diagnosis from your urologist or another physician. If their area of specialty is not prostate cancer treatment specifically, it would be best to discuss your treatment options with an oncologist – a doctor that specializes in cancer treatment.
There are several different approaches to prostate cancer treatment. If cancer is found at an early stage your doctor may recommend an “active surveillance” or “watchful waiting” approach. There are several different medical treatments available as well. Each individual case is different, and if you have any doubt whatsoever about the treatment plan that’s best for you, or if you just want to determine if the suggested treatment plan is what a cancer specialist would also suggest, it would be best to get a second opinion.
Most insurance companies will cover a second opinion assessment, but you should always check with your insurance provider to check your coverage before making an appointment.
If you want to see an oncologist at Arizona Oncology about a second opinion on a cancer diagnosis that you have already received, please visit our appointments page or call one of our 30+ Arizona Oncology office locations to request your second opinion appointment.
What Kind of Doctor Should I See?
Once you're confident about your cancer diagnosis, it's time to schedule an appointment for prostate cancer treatment. The type of doctor you will see for treatment will depend on your specific case. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan tailored to you. At Arizona Oncology, you will typically see a medical oncologist first where they will assess your condition and then refer you to a radiation oncologist as appropriate for treatment based on the stage of the cancer.
What Is the Extent of My Prostate Cancer?
Most likely you've already had some tests done which may have included a biopsy, blood tests, scans and other tests that can help the oncologist understand how advanced your prostate cancer is. Your oncologist will give your cancer a grade, also called a stage, based on the size and location of the prostate cancer. Learn more in our prostate cancer staging section.
During your first meeting with the prostate cancer specialist they will evaluate what has already been done and may request a few more tests before recommending a treatment plan.
Will My Treatment Be Paid for By Insurance?
Cancer treatment is expensive. After a prostate cancer diagnosis, request a full description of your medical benefits from your insurance provider. Bring that with you to your first appointment. During your first visit you’ll spend some time with the Arizona Oncology patient benefits specialist. They will know how to help you with gaps in coverage for prescriptions or other concerns that many patients have related to paying for cancer treatment.
Support for Prostate Cancer Patient, Survivors and Caregivers
We know this is a difficult time, but you can do this. Arizona Oncology has a team of cancer specialists, including doctors, nurses, financial experts and social support, taking care of patients in multiple locations throughout the state. We’re here to answer questions and connect you with the resources you need.
You can also find a list of support groups and helpful resources that many patients find invaluable during your cancer treatment process and even after treatment is complete. We hope you can find a group that you enjoy meeting with and take advantage of their experiences to assist and encourage you.