A HUNTER radiation specialist is urging prostate cancer patients to consider all treatment options before rushing into surgery.
Dr Jarad Martin, a radiation oncologist and director of research at the Calvary Mater Newcastle, said the panic that could follow a prostate cancer diagnosis could lead to knee-jerk decisions regarding treatment.
But he hoped to encourage patients to “hit the pause button” to give themselves time to make an informed decision that they would be comfortable with long term.
“When you are operating under a bit of stress with a cancer diagnosis, it can be hard to absorb and process information,” Dr Martin said.
“When they get the news they have prostate cancer, they can go into a bit of a tail spin about what to do next.
“There are multiple options that may be appropriate for them, but the only way they can really understand what is going to be the right option for them is to be guided through a decision making process.”
Dr Martin said national and international guidelines recommended men take the opportunity to meet with a couple of clinicians – ideally an expert in radiotherapy, as well as an expert in surgery – to get unbiased information from both sources.
“A lot of clinicians have a natural bias to what they are experienced in, and a lot of surgeons are no different, and see surgery as being a great option,” Dr Martin said.
“Radiotherapy specialists also have our own biases too. So the GP also becomes a useful umpire to help guys isolate what the key factors are to help them make a decision they are comfortable with.”
Dr Martin said the Hunter was home to “excellent” surgeons and radiotherapists, both publicly and privately.
Surgery had a higher risk of “knocking out” sexual function, while radiotherapy could cause bowel and bladder problems.
“Whatever they do can have ramifications, probably for the rest of their lives, so it is important they make an informed decision before they push the ‘go’ button,” Dr Martin said.