A decision about prostate cancer treatment is one that you should spend some time making. After receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer, however, it's understandable that the first thought that comes to mind is, "Let's go with whatever will cure my cancer the fastest." Most men want nothing more than to eliminate their cancer and get on with life.
It's tempting to make a decision quickly and then get right to the treatment. But before you do, talk to members of your care team -- and those you love -- so that you can make the most informed decision about what's right for your particular situation. Haste is not something that should be a part of what is arguably one of the most important decisions of your life.
Your Primary Care Physician
For most men, the doctor who knows them the best is their primary care physician (either an internist or a family practitioner). It’s important to consult with your primary care physician about how any health problems you may have could be affected by prostate cancer treatments.
Both a Radiation Oncologist and a Urologist
The two primary treatment options for early stage prostate cancer are surgery and radiation therapy. To properly evaluate the pros and cons of each of these, you must talk to these two physician specialists before coming to a decision.
Both urologists and radiation oncologists tend to be biased in favor of their own treatment option. If you were to speak to only one of the two, the information you received would undoubtedly be factually correct but slanted in favor of the doctor's area of speciality.
Unfortunately, many men rush into a decision about treatment without talking to one or both of these specialists. There is only one chance to choose the most appropriate treatment option for early prostate cancer and, by talking to both an urologist and a radiation oncologist, you give yourself the best chance of making the right choice for you.
Your primary care physician may be able to refer you to a urologist and radiation oncologist in your area. Or, you can search About.com's UCompare Healthcare for specialists near you:
Your Loved Ones
It may seem obvious that you should discuss potential treatment options with your family and friends, but, surprisingly, men do not often do this.
For most men, the lives of their loved ones will be affected by prostate cancer treatments almost as much as their own lives will be. For example, external beam radiation therapy is usually administered during daily treatment sessions over the course of several weeks. This would obviously tax the schedule of most men and their families, and that needs to be considered. Side effects or complications of treatment, such as erectile dysfunction or incontinence, need to be carefully weighed with loved ones as well.
These can sometimes be difficult conversations to have, but it is important to involve loved ones when making a such an important life decision.
The Bottom Line
Only after discussing the primary treatment options that are available to you with your primary care physician, urologist, radiation oncologist, and loved ones can a thoughtful and appropriate decision be made.
This process of discussing treatment options with the right people will likely take a couple (or several) weeks to complete. Unless you are faced with an incredibly aggressive, fast-moving cancer, a few weeks should not make a difference in the outcome of treatment. It is far more important to think about and choose a treatment option carefully than to rush ahead with an option that is not the best for you.