How to talk to your surgeon like a surgeon
There’s no doubt that your cancer diagnosis has been life changing. You’ve spoken to your doctor, who has advised that you undergo a prostatectomy. You’re aware that sexual dysfunction and urinary incontinence are common side effects following prostate cancer surgery. Being informed allows you more control over your decision, and prepares you for your future, giving greater peace of mind and confidence.
But being informed is only part of the equation. You need to be savvy when it comes to discussing your health, especially when choosing a surgeon. Many survivors are disappointed to find out that even though they had asked what they thought were the right questions, the answers they were given glossed over important details that affect quality of life long after surgery. That’s why you should ask the surgeons you consider very specific questions and learn to talk to a surgeon like you are one.
The table below identifies frequently asked questions versus the more specific questions that should be asked, and why you should be asking them. Before you undergo a prostatectomy, make sure to ask your surgeon these key questions:
While the above is not a complete list of questions to ask your surgeon prior to your prostatectomy, it does comprise some of the key questions that you need to ask. You’ll have dozens more questions in mind when you meet your surgeon, so it’s best to jot everything down or bring a printed or digital copy going into your appointment. It may also be helpful to take a family member or friend to your appointment with you. They will be able to ask questions that may arise from the discussion and offer an extra pair of ears when listening to answers. Just remember: when it comes to your body, health, and well-being, there’s no such thing as a stupid question.
Choosing a surgeon is important, and so is asking that surgeon all the right questions the way one surgeon would talk to another. And it’s okay to be frank and forthcoming about topics that are typically taboo. That way, you’ll get the full, honest answers you’re looking for. Asking these questions ensures that you and your surgeon are aligned in your thinking – avoiding nasty surprises further down the line.