Questions to Ask your Doctor: Recurrence of Prostate Cancer

When it is caught early, prostate cancer is usually curable. However, some men may see a return of their cancer after approximately 5 years. Generally, this will be noticed because of a rising PSA, and your doctor may recommend more treatment. Here are a few questions to ask your doctor before you decide on your next course.

  • How high is my PSA?
  • Can we chart the changes in my PSA? What can this “PSA velocity” or “PSA slope” tell us about my prognosis?
  • Should I get a bone scan to see if the cancer has spread to my bones?
  • Are there any genetic tests I can do that might make me eligible for clinical trials or new, gene-targeted drugs?
  • Are there any other tests I should have to determine where the cancer is or how much the cancer has spread?
  • What treatments are available to me at this stage? Surgery? Hormone therapy? Immunotherapy? Chemotherapy?
  • What is the likelihood that these treatments could send my cancer into remission again?
  • What are the potential side effects, both severe and minor types?
  • Are there dietary changes that I could or should make to optimize treatment? What should my ideal exercise program be?
  • Should we add a medical oncologist or radiation oncologist to my treatment team to gain an additional perspective on treating my disease?
  • What is new on the horizon for treatment in early clinical trials? What about Immunotherapy, checkpoint inhibitors, and new precision drugs targeted to specific genes?
  • What is my prognosis with further treatment? Without?

Discussing these questions with your doctor will help you make informed decisions regarding future treatment.

 

Terms to know from this article:

Prognosis

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

Bone scan

A technique to create images of bones on a computer screen or on film. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into a blood vessel and travels through the bloodstream; it collects in the bones and is detected by a scanner.

Hormone

A chemical made by glands in the body. Hormones circulate in the bloodstream and control the actions of certain cells or organs. Some hormones can also be made in a laboratory.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that boosts or restores the immune system to fight cancer, infections and other diseases. There a several different agents used for immunotherapy; Provenge is one example.

Remission

A decrease in or disappearance of signs and symptoms of cancer. In partial remission, some, but not all, signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although cancer still may be in the body.

Oncologist

A doctor who specializes in treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment. For example, a radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation.

PSA

prostate-specific antigen (PSA): A substance produced by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or infection or inflammation of the prostate.

Gene

The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein.