‘[The GP] said … ‘you’ve got prostate cancer.’ … ‘I’ll send you to a specialist.’ … There was no ongoing information as to all the rest of it.’
After finding out more about your prostate cancer, you’re in a position to think about the available treatment options. The best treatment option for you depends on how far the cancer has spread and other factors such as your age and overall health. If your cancer has just spread a little way outside the prostate gland (locally advanced prostate cancer), you may be offered localised treatments such as surgery or radiotherapy. If your cancer has spread to other parts of your body, or metastasised, treatments will aim to control or contain the cancer, such as radiotherapy, androgen deprivation therapy (also known as hormone therapy) and chemotherapy. Where the disease has spread will influence the recommendations your doctor will make about treatment. However, all treatment options come with side effects (e.g. sexual difficulties, incontinence, and infertility). Learning about side effects can help you with your treatment decision.
You can read more about treatment options and side effects in the booklets that are parts of this series: Treatment, and Side Effects.
As mentioned at the start of this booklet, during your cancer journey, your advanced prostate cancer will be managed by a range of health professionals who will provide you with advice, treatment and support. Best practice cancer care involves being cared for by a healthcare team. This team of medical and allied health professionals works with you to develop a treatment plan specific for you, and to provide care and follow-up care.
Generally, there is a member of the healthcare team who will be your main contact person. This person may change during your cancer journey. If you’re unsure who this person is, ask one of the health professionals you’re seeing. Your contact person can talk with other health professionals on your behalf who can make sure all your healthcare needs are met.
The benefits to you in having a healthcare team include:
- improved communication, coordination and decision making between health professionals about your care
- improved treatment planning because all treatment types and options are considered by a range of health professionals
- improved coordination of services
- improved delivery of services
- improved quality of life.
When working with your healthcare team, you may see the following:
- GP: Your first port of call who can provide referrals to other specialists and who will monitor your health.
- Urologist*: A specialist in treating diseases of the urinary tract system and male reproductive organs.
- Radiation Oncologist*: A specialist in the treatment of cancer using radiation therapy.
- Medical Oncologist*: A specialist doctor who uses different drugs to treat cancer (such as chemotherapy).
- Endocrinologist*: A doctor who specialises in hormones, body chemistry and bone density.
- Pathologist: Conducts tests to assess the stage and aggressiveness of cancer.
- Radiologist: A specialist doctor who examines scans, X-rays and other imaging results.
- Nurse (also known as Urology or Prostate Care Nurse): Provides treatment, support and assistance through all treatment stages.
- Cancer Nurse Coordinator: Guides you and your family through cancer treatments and liaises with other care providers.
- Pharmacist: Dispenses medications and offers medication advice.
- Continence Nurse: Helps you manage any problems related to continence (urinary or bowel) care after treatment.
- Dietitian: Recommends the best eating plan while in treatment and recovery.
- Physiotherapist: Specialises in movement and function of the body, advises on resuming normal physical activities.
- Exercise Physiologist: Specialises in the benefits of exercises to help people get fitter for overall health or help people with a medical condition through exercise.
- Occupational Therapist: Helps with the physical side of daily life by providing rehabilitation exercises.
- Social Worker: Advises on support, practical and legal matters and provides strategies to cope with emotional, social and spiritual challenges.
- Psychologist, Psychiatrist or Counsellor: Provides strategies with decision making, problem solving, and dealing with psychosocial issues, including providing emotional and practical support and managing anxiety and depression.
- Palliative Care Specialist: Expert in pain and symptom control who works closely with your treatment team.
- Sex Therapist: Help with sexuality issues by identifying the level of sexual functioning available, and enhancing sexual and relationship functioning.
- Fertility Counsellor: Specialises in helping people with fertility concerns and issues, and can advise on fertility preservation options before starting treatments.
*These health professionals use hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), as part of their treatment.