Community Views: Making a Treatment Decision
Choosing a treatment for prostate cancer (PC) is a personal decision. There are several options to choose from, and each person must weigh unique factors when making this choice. To learn more about those factors, we asked in a recent Facebook prompt, “How did you make a treatment decision (or if you’re on active surveillance, why did you choose that)?"
The many responses show the wide range of approaches and feelings about prostate cancer treatment.
Many respondents chose to treat their cancer by having their prostate surgically removed. Their doctors advised it as the best treatment based on their test results. Some respondents also did not want the stress of waiting or having the cancer progress.
“When the radiologist said if it were him, he’d have it removed, that was my clincher.”
“Had surgery because I wanted it out. Glad I did. After several months I was back to normal, and almost 6 years later, still 0.0 PSA.”
“I was a ‘better out than in’ chap.”
“I was told I wasn’t a candidate for sitting back and watching for a while. After weighing out and researching my options, I chose robotic surgery.”
Another possible treatment for PC is radiation therapy. Consulting with their healthcare team members led some respondents to choose this option, partially because radiation is less invasive than surgical removal. For some respondents, hormone treatments were given along with the radiation.
“After the urologist, I sought a second opinion from an oncologist. His advice was radiotherapy and hormone treatment. 4.5 years later, it is still a good decision.”
“The head of the radiotherapy department at the university is a colleague and friend of mine. I followed his suggestion and had 40 radiations with great results and no side effects.”
“My second opinion felt radiation would solve my cancer, being in stage 1.”
Rather than treating their PC directly, many respondents chose active surveillance. This approach monitors PSA levels closely to watch for cancer progression. Active treatment then occurs if it becomes necessary. While some people are glad they waited and watched, others wish they had chosen to act sooner.
“I was stage 1A, so active surveillance was a no-brainer for me. No regrets there.”
“I am on active surveillance at this time. I will go for another MRI followed by another biopsy, and we will go from there to see what to do.”
“I chose active surveillance for a few years because two surgeons told me my cancer wasn’t aggressive. After surgery, the pathology report showed it was farther along than they thought. Knowing what I know now, I would not have waited.”
More details about treatment risks
Because side effects from PC treatments can affect quality of life, each person needs honest and complete information to make the best decision. Doctors need to fully explain each treatment option and its risks. Unfortunately, many respondents chose a treatment when they were unaware of the possible side effects.
“I often see posts where men regret their decisions, and many will say, my doctor didn’t tell me about the side effects of my treatment program.”
“My cancer is gone, but I’m left with aftereffects which have caused severe and permanent quality of life issues. The worst part is that no one told me of these possible side effects.”
“Ten years later, I’m still here, but no one will ever tell a man what the side effects of that surgery will be! Saying it varies by individual, true, but you have to tell them the possibilities of what’s likely.”
We appreciate all the responses to this Facebook prompt. Everyone learns from the many experiences shared in this space, so your participation is important.
Do you have ways of managing your mindset for big decisions?