Newly Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer

Recently Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer? Now What?

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.

Why Second Opinions Are Important

You probably received a prostate cancer diagnosis from your urologist. Most urologists are familiar with treating prostate cancer using surgery. They may not, however, be as familiar with the most recent prostate cancer treatments available through an oncologist. Oftentimes you can avoid or delay prostate removal surgery. 

If you already had surgery, or surgery is part of the best recommendations, there are likely other cancer treatments that will help keep it from returning that can be used.

Second opinions help you identify the best medical treatment plan for you

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.

Second opinions help you find the team you feel most comfortable with

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.

What Type of Doctor Should I Visit for Treatment?

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.

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What are Some of the Prostate Cancer Treatments Available Today?

Common treatments used for prostate cancer include:

  • Active surveillance, also called watchful waiting
  • Radiation therapy — external beam or brachytherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Surgery to remove the prostate
  • Chemotherapy, primarily for advanced-stage prostate cancer
  • Targeted therapy if biomarker testing shows that this type of drug will be effective

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.

Learn more about prostate cancer treatments available through WVCI. 

How Will We Decide Which Treatments Are Right for Me?

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.

What’s Included During the Second Opinion Appointment?

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. 

Questions to Ask Your Prostate Cancer Doctor

Before your appointment, write down any questions or thoughts you or your family may have. During the appointment, you may be overwhelmed, so doing this beforehand will ensure that everything is answered thoroughly. Examples of some questions include:

  • Does my prostate cancer require treatment right away?
  • If it does, what are my treatment options?
  • What side effects of prostate cancer treatment should I expect?
  • Will the treatment result in long-lasting effects on the bladder or rectum?
  • How will the recommended treatments impact my ability to have sex?
  • How long does treatment last?
  • Will I need to have prostate cancer surgery?
  • Who will my care team consist of?
  • Will I still visit my primary care doctor?
  • Are there any prostate cancer clinical trials I should consider?
  • What changes in my current lifestyle should I expect or consider?
  • Should I avoid certain activities or add any to my routine?
  • What should my diet consist of?
  • Can I continue taking my supplements? Should I add any additional supplements?
  • How likely is it that my cancer will be cured?
  • Should my family get genetic testing?

You are Not Alone in Your Prostate Cancer Journey

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. 

Find a Prostate Cancer Center Near You

To schedule an initial consultation or a second opinion appointment with an oncologist, please choose the location that is convenient for you. Our offices are located in Albany, Corvallis, Eugene, Lincoln City, Florence, and Newport, Oregon.

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