When first diagnosed with prostate cancer, your partner and you are suddenly faced with difficult issues affecting your future life together. Many questions arise: What treatments are available? How will they affect us? What is the best therapy, and what are the risks? How will our sex life be affected?
There are many outstanding professionals and highly regarded institutions that can give you good advice. No two cancers are the same and thus may require different treatments. Before deciding on a particular treatment or doctor, learn about your options.
We turned to The Prostate Cancer Center of Seattle (www.prostatecancertreatmentcenter.com) because they have developed a unique and consumer friendly database to help patients with prostate cancer. For years they have been comparing results of different prostate treatments so that patients can make the best treatment decisions.Dr. Peter Grimm, a founder of this premier center, and his associates have successfully treated thousands of patients. Here is his advice:
Prostate cancer has a good overall prognosis with the available choices, but there are differences. Most important for both of you is to seek the advice of experts specializing in each of the treatments available, including surgery, seed implantation and external beam radiation. What is critical is for you is to get independent advice. Some physicians and treatment centers can be quite forceful in presenting their methodology which they consider best. Be cautious, especially when physicians criticize treatments they don’t perform. Ask questions such as, “How many of these procedures have you done, doctor? What were the outcomes?” Sometimes the best option is to NOT treat immediately (known as active surveillance). Be sure to ask each specialist about this conservative option as well. Make no decisions till you both feel sure you have a good understanding of the different medical options.
The good news is that survival rates are high for all of the treatment methods. Yet your goal goes beyond survival, it is to be cancer-free – forever. Cancer-control is best determined by a simple blood test for PSA (prostate specific antigen). Find out which treatments have the best cancer-control results for similar patients. Cancer-control rates are published by The Prostate Cancer Results Study Group, an independent and unbiased expert panel, made up of top professionals and specialist in prostate cancer. They have reviewed every study published since the year 2000, comparing effectiveness and long-term cancer-control rates of the various treatments. These results are collated, compared and made available at a single, independent website: www.pctrf.org.
All treatments have side effects, influenced by the patient’s age and medical condition, as well as the physician’s experience. A friend who has dealt successfully with his cancer says, “I found it most reassuring to talk to patients who’ve gone through the treatments. They answered even the most intimate questions: Was their cancer controlled, based on PSA measurement? Did they have any incontinence? Were they able to have an erection? My wife and I shared the process, and it strengthened our relationship in many ways. We supported each other in keeping a positive attitude which helps no matter what treatment of choice.”