Making treatment decisions
Your treatment team
From the time that you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may be cared for by one or more of a team of health professionals, including:
- your GP – your family/whānau doctor who will often be the first person you see
- a urologist – a doctor who specialises in the care of men with prostate cancer, providing medical and surgical care
- medical oncologists – doctors who are responsible for prescribing targeted therapies, immunotherapy, chemotherapy and other aspects of cancer care
- radiation oncologists – doctors who specialise in the use of radiation treatment
- radiation therapists – people who plan and give you your radiation treatment
- a cancer nurse coordinator and/or clinical nurse specialist – a person who acts as a point of contact for you in different parts of the health service. They support and guide you and your family/whānau to keep you fully informed about your care
- outpatient nurses – nurses who work alongside doctors during their clinics.
Your treatment team may include other health care professionals, such as a palliative care specialist, nurse practitioner, research nurse, social worker, psychologist, dietitian, physiotherapist, practice nurse, community health nurse, pharmacist and occupational therapist.
“Have faith in the professionals and be confident that modern treatment options are effective.”
Talking to your cancer treatment team
When you first learn you have cancer you may have many questions. We suggest that you think about the questions you would like to have answered and what you do not want to be told, before you visit your cancer treatment team. There is a lot of information to take so it can be helpful to have a support person with you when you visit.
Ka nui pea ō pātai ka mōhio ana koe kua pā te matepukupuku. Ko tā mātou ki a koe, me ata whakaaro koe i ngā pātai ka hiahia koe kia whakautua, me ngā mea kīhai koe e hiahia ana ki te rongo i mua i tō haerenga ki te kite i tō rōpū maimoa matepukupuku. He nui ngā pārongo ka rongo koe, nō reira, he mea nui kia hari tangata tautoko koe i te wā haere ai koe.
You can ask for a second opinion
You may want to ask another doctor about your cancer or treatment. You can ask your treatment team or GP to refer you to another cancer doctor. You are entitled to a second opinion if you want one.
“I had prostate cancer and had a radical prostatectomy. My PSA was zero but there were 3-4 years I didn’t have my levels tested. My levels have gone up again and I don’t know why I wasn’t tested earlier.” (Tony)
“I had to ask my doctor for another PSA test, otherwise he wouldn’t do it and I wanted to know I was OK.” (Graeme)
Talking with others
Once you have discussed treatment options with your doctor and family/whānau, you may want to talk them over with someone else. Talking it over can help you to decide what choice is right for you.
You may be interested in Cancer Connect, run by the Cancer Society. This is a free telephone peer-support programme. For more information on this programme, phone the Cancer Information Helpline 0800 CANCER (226 237) .
“I got my first prostate cancer diagnosis seven years ago. It’s my second time round and I go to see the nurses at the Cancer Society. They are supportive and up to date with what is happening with treatments so I know what to expect.” (Raju)
Finding out more from your cancer treatment team
You may like to learn more from your cancer treatment team. Consider asking questions about:
- the possible advantages and disadvantages of different treatments
- the difference that waiting would make
- what would happen if you do not have treatment
- how long your treatment might last and how often you will have to have it
- how your treatment will be given
- if you will need to stay in hospital
- how treatment might affect your day-to-day life now and in the future
- how likely it is that the treatment will work for your situation
- if there is anything you need to be particularly careful about during and/or after treatment
- the effects on your erectile function and what that might mean