Being diagnosed with prostate cancer can come with many unanswered questions and uncertainty. For most men, their diagnosis occurs in the early stages of prostate cancer, allowing them to take a some time to research and determine their next steps. After the initial shock of diagnosis wears off, they should schedule an appointment with an urologist to address their questions and treatment options.
So what can help make that first visit after being diagnosed with prostate cancer go smoothly?
Be prepared and know what to expect.
Visiting the doctor for any reason, let alone cancer, can be overwhelming, so if you find yourself facing prostate cancer, here are the top five tips to get ready for your first post-diagnosis appointment.
Share Your Medical History
As with almost all medical exams, the doctor will need to have a thorough look at your medical history. In order to arrive prepared, send any previous
- biopsy report
- transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) measurement with pictures
- CT/bone scans
- MRI report
Don’t worry if you don’t have all of these reports, as not all patients receive the same tests. Just send the reports you do have at least two weeks before the appointment. Although the doctor will be able review the medical files and examine the results of recent scans or tests prior to the appointment, be ready to answer additional medical questions, such as a complete background into family medical history, which can point to a patient’s risk of certain health problems.
Reviewing the medical history in detail is important for a doctor to better understand the circumstances that need to be considered when applying various methods of treatment.
Prepare a List of Current Medications
Doctors need to be well-informed when it comes to your daily dose of medication—both prescription and non-prescription. Daily multivitamins or other supplements in addition to prescriptions must be noted in order to verify that any new medications the doctor may recommend can be safely combined. This drug list can also be used to identify any lingering symptoms you may have.
Write Down Any & All Symptoms
It is important to discuss any and all symptoms with the doctor. There are many symptoms related to prostate cancer, including urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction; however, other issues, which may seem unrelated, should also be examined. Let the doctor decide what indicators are important—something simple could indicate a problem. If there are urinary issues or erectile dysfunction, the doctor may be able to discuss treatments that could help improve these conditions.
Bring a Friend or Family Member
Medical discussions can be complicated and confusing, especially for new patients. Bringing a friend or family member allows you to have a second pair of ears to help observe and comprehend the critical information this initial appointment will convey. This extra person can also alleviate the stress of tackling cancer alone. Don’t underestimate the power of a good caregiver and advocate. So talk to your partner, spouse, daughter, son or friend and ask them to attend the appointment with you.
Start a List of Questions
Cancer diagnoses can leave patients with a lot of unanswered questions. Leading up to the first appointment, keep a list of the questions to ask the doctor. A comprehensive list—and the help of a friend—will ensure important issues do not go ignored.