Your doctor has just told you that you have localized prostate cancer. While he's explaining your treatment options, all you're trying to do is not panic.
He's discussing different types of surgery or radiation therapies, while you're probably wondering, "What is localized prostate cancer?" and "How am I supposed to decide which treatment option is best?"
This decision can be overwhelming and at times frightening. There are so many different things to consider, so many new terms to learn and so many opinions. Take a deep breath; here's some advice.
"Take your time, get the facts, and make a 'game plan.' "
Decision aids exist in various forms (e.g., pamphlets or videos) and are designed to help people understand their health care options, consider the personal importance of possible benefits and harms, and participate in decision making. Decision aids are used when there's more than one medically reasonable option.
Recently, a new decision aid for men with localized prostate cancer was released on the web and is available to the public. "Knowing Your Options" is an interactive, web-based decision aid designed to prepare men who have been diagnosed with clinically localized prostate cancer to have an informed discussion with their doctor about which treatment options are best for them. Baylor College of Medicine and MD Anderson developed the tool for the John M. Eisenberg Clinical Decisions and Communications Science Center, with funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This free tool provides up-to-date, comprehensive information within five easy-to-use learning modules:
- Introduction includes information about what it means to be diagnosed with clinically localized prostate cancer.
- Prostate Cancer, with narrated animation about the location and function of the prostate gland.
- Treatment Options includes information about the choice not to begin treatment immediately.
- What Is Important, an interactive section allowing you to think about your priorities.
- Talk WithYour Doctor, an interactive question list to help you make the best decision for you.
At the end of the tool, you have the option to print a summary with tailored information that you can show to your doctor or anyone else you wish to involve in your decision.
Robert Volk, Ph.D., professor in the Department of General Internal Medicine at MD Anderson, was the lead developer for the tool. His colleagues, Curtis Pettaway, M.D., professor in the Department of Urology, and Deborah Kuban, M.D., professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology, served as medical experts.
Volk says, "Decision aids provide patients with information about their treatment options, the potential harms and benefits of each option, and guidance on making a decision in partnership with their health care providers. In the case of clinically localized prostate cancer, where men face a treatment decision with several reasonable options, informed decision-making is paramount."
For more information and to use the decision aid, visit the website.