Questions to Ask your Doctor: Advanced Stage

If you have been diagnosed with advanced stage prostate cancer (cancer that has metastasized beyond the prostate), your cancer may not be curable at this time, but treatments may slow the progression of the disease. A goal of oncology is for patients to “be there for the cure.” You want to be a partner in your care. Your doctor or treatment team can answer your questions and clarify any decisions you will need to make. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  •  What is the clinical state and Gleason score of my cancer?
  • Is my cancer low, medium, or high risk?
  • What are all of my current treatment options?
  • What side effects might I experience with each of these treatments?
  • Are any of these side effects permanent? Can they be treated?
  • Will I experience any symptoms?
  • Am I likely to experience any pain? If so, how is it managed so I have none?
  • What is my prognosis (chances of survival)?
  • If I want to consult with another doctor for a second opinion, how do I share information between you?
  • What are the lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, stress management) that I should make to improve treatment outcomes and my well being?

Being open and honest with your doctor is vitally important to your treatment and prognosis.

Terms to know from this article:

Progression

Increase in the size of a tumor or spread of cancer in the body.

Gleason

Gleason Score (GS) - Gleason Grade: A system of grading prostate cancer cells based on how they look under a microscope. Gleason scores range from 2 to 10 and indicate how likely it is that a tumor will spread. A low Gleason score means the cancer cells are similar to normal prostate cells and are less likely to spread; a high Gleason score means the cancer cells are very different from normal and are more likely to spread.

Prognosis

The likely outcome or course of a disease; the chance of recovery or recurrence.