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Research on Treatment Methods
You may want to talk to your doctor about taking part in a clinical trial, a research study of new methods of treating prostate cancer.
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may be overwhelmed with an array of treatment options. Your course of action will, to some extent, be influenced by the character of your cancer. Your decisions should also reflect your personal priorities after weighing the pros and cons for the treatment options available. Your age and health should also be considered.
Decisions on treating prostate cancer are complicated by shortcomings in both prognosis and treatment. Although your Gleason score and PSA test provide good guidelines, there is still no way to know for sure how rapidly your cancer will progress, nor are there any results available from clinical trials that directly compared different types of treatments for similar stages of prostate cancer to help you evaluate possible options.
An important consideration to factor into your decision is that success is not guaranteed. As many as half of the apparently localized cancers turn out, at surgery, to have already spread. And up to one-fourth -- despite apparently successful surgery -- will produce a recurrence over the next several years. Thus, while aggressive treatment will be unnecessary for some men, it will prove inadequate for others.
In coming to a decision, you may find it helpful to thoroughly discuss your prostate cancer treatment options, including benefits and side effects, with your wife or partner. You may also consider contacting your local prostate cancer support group after consulting with your primary care physician and one or more specialists. Getting a second opinion and different perspectives can be helpful.
Your decision does not need to be rushed. Take time to explore all of your options. You may prefer a teaching hospital or a cancer center for treatment, choosing a surgeon or radiation oncologist who has extensive experience in the newest, least traumatizing techniques. You may want to take part in a clinical trial evaluating new approaches. Ultimately, the decision rests with each individual. Each man has his own priorities and knows best which choices feel most comfortable for him.