After your initial prostate cancer treatment ends, it’s important to have a survivorship care plan. The plan can keep your primary healthcare provider abreast of any medical or psychological issues that might develop as a consequence of your prostate cancer treatment. It can also help ensure that you are not surprised if any of those issues develop—and that you know where to turn for help if they do.
If you’re nearing the end of treatment for prostate cancer and your medical team doesn’t mention a survivorship care plan, ask the physician who coordinated your cancer care (typically your urologist, radiation oncologist, or medical oncologist) to prepare one.
The plan should include:
- Your treatment history. Include the contact information for the doctor who coordinated your care; your specific diagnosis, cancer stage and the date of your diagnosis/staging, PSA levels, and biopsy and imaging findings. Also include information on the date(s) and type of treatment you had and any toxicities experienced. If you underwent radiation therapy, include radiation dosage per treatment and cumulative dosage.
- Information on potential long-term and late treatment effects.
- Information about your risk of recurrence.
- What type of monitoring you need for toxicities that might develop over the long term and what tests you need to detect a recurrence or a second cancer and how often you need them.
- Contact information for the doctor who is responsible for each aspect of your survivorship care plan. For example, if you develop bowel incontinence due to radiation therapy, who should you see?
- Recommendations for living a healthy lifestyle.
- Other referrals. For example, professionals who can help with issues like smoking cessation, weight loss, or healthy eating.
After the plan has been prepared, make an appointment to review it. Be sure to obtain copies of the plan for yourself and your primary care physician or internist.
Also, be aware that you may have to pay for a survivorship care planning appointment, since it may not be covered by your health insurance. Finally, keep in mind that this is not a static plan. Some information, such as recommendations for monitoring, is based on current scientific evidence but could change in time.