With a diagnosis of prostate cancer, there are many decisions to make, including what treatment methods are right for you and when to start.
Because prostate cancer typically grows slowly, most men have time to review their treatment options and consider the pros and cons of a few different treatment paths. It also gives you time to get a second opinion after receiving your first treatment plan.
It’s best to consult with an oncologist for a second opinion about treatment options after discussing the urologist’s recommendation or after receiving another oncologist’s treatment plan to see what is available to you. Second-opinion appointments are usually covered by insurance.
Many times the best path is to wait before treating this type of cancer. Based on the prostate cancer stage, the oncologist may suggest "active surveillance" or "watchful waiting." If that wasn’t part of the original recommendation, ask about this during your second opinion appointment.
Not only does a second opinion help you identify all of your treatment options so you can make a decision, but it also helps you get to know the various treatment teams. You should choose the one that makes you feel confident and comfortable. Conversations should be easy to follow with the cancer care team. If they’re not, you may want to consider talking to another group to find one you’re comfortable with.
The oncologists at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute often provide prostate cancer patients with second opinions. Doctors are not offended by your interest in a second opinion. We want what’s best for you and to make you feel as comfortable as possible during the treatment process.
We’ve talked about how an oncologist will have the best overview of which treatment process is likely to work best for you. There are several types of oncologists. Typically when prostate cancer is newly diagnosed, a patient meets with a radiation oncologist. That’s because radiation can often be used, with or without surgery, to treat prostate cancer before other types of treatments are suggested.
At Willamette Valley Cancer Institute, you consult with a prostate cancer specialist who will assess your condition and provide you with all the information needed to make the right decision. If other types of physicians need to be included, such as a urologic surgeon and/or a medical oncologist, they will be brought in to consult about your needs early in the treatment process. Together we will determine the right timing for each type of treatment.
Common treatments used for prostate cancer include:
As we’ve mentioned, prostate cancer removal surgery is not always a necessary part of treatment. Men with the earliest stages of prostate cancer may be recommended an active surveillance approach before beginning other treatments.
After the prostate biopsy, it’s likely you had some additional testing which may have included blood tests, images such as a PET scan or MRI, and other tests that can help the specialist understand how advanced the prostate cancer is. From this information, the oncologist can determine the stage of cancer and its likelihood of growing quickly or slowly.
A treatment plan will be recommended based on these factors and whether the patient is healthy enough to go through the treatments. In some cases, there are a few treatments suggested to be sure all the cancer cells are destroyed. It’s definitely worth asking questions about the various suggested treatments to be sure you understand the goal of each.
If you're starting with active surveillance, talk about how long that might last before treatments need to begin.
After receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis, your oncologist will evaluate what has already been done and may request a few more tests before recommending a treatment plan. This is usually required to see if the cancer has spread or grown outside of the prostate.
You will be given a lot of information, and there may be terms you don’t understand. Try to take someone with you who can also listen and take notes. Feel free to ask questions. It’s not rude or silly to ask questions because there is a lot of new information being shared.
If you or a loved one were recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, the cancer care team at WVCI is here to help you through each step of the journey. Visit our Support Services page or check out our list of local support groups that you may find helpful.