‘The doctor gave me a book … he wanted me to look through the book and make my own decision.’
Making decisions about treatments can be confusing and difficult because of all the issues you need to consider. It is about finding the right treatment option for you. Remember that you don’t need to make the decision alone. It is a good idea to discuss your treatment options with your partner, family and friends. Your healthcare team is also there to help you make treatment decisions.
Listed below are some questions you may want to ask members of your healthcare team about treatment options for advanced prostate cancer:
- What are all the treatment options available?
- What is the standard treatment of my stage of prostate cancer?
- What do the treatments do? (Do they aim to remove or just contain the cancer?)
- What are the treatment procedures?
- What are the benefits and how likely are they?
- What are the possible side effects?
- What do I have to do and how may it affect my day-to-day life? (e.g. travel to a treatment centre, time off work, changes in responsibilities)
- How will the treatments be monitored?
- What are the costs involved with the treatments?
- How may the treatments affect other health conditions I may have?
You will likely think of other questions too. It may take several visits with your doctor before you feel you have all the answers you need to make a decision. Bear the following in mind.
- Take your time – Although an advanced prostate cancer diagnosis may make you feel you need to start treatment straight away, it is important to take time to know and understand what the treatment involves. In most situations, there is time for you to think before making a decision.
- You can change your decision – If the treatment causes too many other problems for you (such as side effects), you can always talk with your doctor about taking up another treatment option.
- Get a second opinion – Getting an opinion from another doctor is common. It will not offend your doctor. Your doctor may even recommend it. Also, treatments are often coordinated across different specialties so speaking with all health professionals you are seeing can help you with your treatment decision.
After understanding all the information about treatment options, talking with members of your healthcare team, partner, families and friends, and taking into account your personal beliefs, you may choose not to have any treatment. This is a valid choice.