Commonly Asked Prostate Cancer Questions
In recognition of Movember, and to raise awareness of prostate disease, I have prepared a series of answers to questions that are commonly asked by patients.
1. Can my partner become sick as a result of my cancer?
After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, there are no limitations. It is not contagious, and there is no harm to your partner.
2. I was just diagnosed with prostate cancer. Do I need to be treated?
Not all patients diagnosed with prostate cancer need to be treated. Many cases are low grade and some patients can go into a surveillance protocol. Today there are new genetic tests that are available to help determine if you are a candidate for observation.
3. I was just diagnosed with prostate cancer and I have a very important event coming up in the near future at work. How am I going to deal with this?
Prostate cancer is a very slow growing tumor in the vast majority of patients. There is no need to rush into any treatment. You can take care of everything that you need to do, and then carefully evaluation all treatment options.
4. Should I involve my partner in the decision process?
Although a very personal decision, it is a good idea to involve your partner. Patients with cancer benefit from having a support system in place, and your partner is the best one to help you through this.
**5. I don’t want to be treated because I don’t want to become impotent and suffer from erectile dysfunction. **
Today’s treatments that we offer our patients result in far better outcomes than many patients perceive. The vast majority of patients are not incontinent and most can maintain sexual activity after treatment, especially with the use of the medications that are now available to help with erections.
6. If I decide to have radiation therapy, will I feel sick?
Radiation is tolerated very well by patients and is not associated with the side effects of chemotherapy that patients dread. There is no hair loss or nausea. Most patients only complain of feeling slightly tired during their treatment.
7. Should I have the surgery with the robot or should I have an open operation?
Although most prostate surgery for cancer is done with the robot, there are many surgeons who can provide success rates that are equal to those obtained robotically Experience is the most important thing to consider.
8. My grandfather, father, brother and now me have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. What should I tell my three sons?
Some prostate cancer has a genetic component. Your sons should begin screening for the disease in their early to mid 40s.
9. Is PSA a useless test?
The use of PSA testing as a screening tool is controversial. Its not so much that the test is useless, but rather the problem lies with what many doctors do with the results. Although imperfect, it is still the best test that we have.
10. My 84 year old father was just diagnosed with prostate cancer. He is very active and still plays golf several times per week (And no he doesn’t shoot his age). He saw a Urologist who has him scheduled for surgery next week. What should we do?
He definitely needs a second opinion. There is no role for radical surgery, and possibly not even treatment in octogenarians with prostate cancer.
Jay Motola, MD, is a board-certified urologist and attending physician, Department of Urology, Mount Sinai West, and Assistant Professor of Urology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Motola is a summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Boston University, and earned his medical degree at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.