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Cancer: Prostate Message Board

Cancer: Prostate Board Index

Lido, welcome to the world of PC. I’m very sorry that you are having to join, but hopefully this site will be a helpful resource as you navigate the choppy waters.

It’s choppy waters for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there is a lot to learn. Very few of us knew much or anything about PC before being diagnosed (I didn’t); so, there is a lot to absorb in order to move knowledgeably and confidently through your upcoming months of decisions and actions. Secondly, you’ve got to take some inputs with a “grain of salt.” I think you’ve already seen this, and I think you are recognizing this. Anyone who gets overly enthusiastic about one treatment, or bashes another one, has probably got some bias they are conveying. From your last posting, it appears that you are prepared to deal with that.

You already sound like you have come a ways up the learning curve, but nonetheless, I feel that there is one or two books which are outstanding references…not just for before treatment, but also for after. If you haven’t already bought this, I would highly recommend Dr Patrick Walsh’s [U]Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer[/U], which is readily available via online booksellers.

You’ve already mentioned that you are looking at robotic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is not a euphemism for robotic surgery (as was suggested in an earlier response). Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive technique which may be done either manually or with the assistance of a robot. You are probably also aware that “open” surgery is another method. Surgery is always for cases in which the surgeon and patient have high confidence that the cancer is “organ confined.” If there is reason to believe otherwise, then surgery will typically not be the first or best choice. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know conclusively…one has to understand the odds and use them to make an informed decision. There are look-up tables based on case history for this purpose...the Partin Tables.

If you do go with surgery, the number one guidance I or anyone could give you is to find a very experienced surgeon in whatever technique he uses. There is a learning curve to this very complicated surgery, and studies have shown that more experienced surgeons have better overall results than less experienced surgeons. Seems like common sense, but really important.

Let me try to address your questions:

[QUOTE=Lido;4183834]1. Based on the numbers above, how quickly do I need to commit to a treatment plan?

Don’t rush urgently into any treatment. You numbers are such that you don’t need urgent movement. I would say you need to move deliberately down a decision path. I would encourage that you explore all possible treatment options so that you don’t second guess yourself later. Some of them may fall by the wayside quickly for one reason or the other.

2. I have never had surgery before. I wanted to know what the first two weeks are like after surgery. Can I manage these weeks alone or do I need to have someone help? If I need help, how much help?

Lido, this is tough to answer. From your question, it sounds like you are solo. I had robotic surgery, and my post-surgery was incident-free, and so I didn’t really NEED a lot of help. It is major surgery, and you don’t feel great for a while. (The minimally invasive surgery recovery is much faster than open surgery recovery…you probably already knew that.) You are not supposed to drive, at all, while wearing the catheter (did you know about the catheter?) for the first week. I did drive a short distance once or twice. If you can get someone to stay with you and help you, it would be a big help.

[QUOTE=Lido;4183834] 3. Do you recommend anything I can do physically, mentally, and so forth in preparation for the surgery so that recovery is, at least, less traumatic? [/QUOTE]

Yes, absolutely. You mentioned you are in relatively good shape. Being as physically fit as possible before surgery will help with your recovery. After initial diagnosis, I was in sort of a “funk” and exercised very little, but once I realized I wasn’t going to die (I really knew very little about PC in the first few days/weeks) and once I made my decision for surgery, I exercised regularly and rigorously up until the time of surgery. Before diagnosis I exercised maybe 3 days per week, after I got out of my “funk”, I was going 5 or 6 days per week for longer periods. I really believe it helped. My recovery has been excellent.

[QUOTE=Lido;4183834]4. Any advice for the days (and nights) immediately following the surgery?[/QUOTE]

I stayed home from work for 3 weeks (after a mid-week surgery). Most men have significant loss of continence immediately after surgery (after catheter is removed), and then recover slowly & steadily from there, but it takes time. Almost all men wear some “absorbent pads” in their briefs to catch the leaking pee during this period. You will need some time, before a lot of going out in public, to get accustomed to using pads. In the 2nd half of my time off of work, I actually did a lot of work from home, but I was still gaining confidence on using pads before going back all day to work.

Back in September, someone else on this site asked me for how I came to my treatment decision, and so I wrote a lengthy reply which I will also share with you. I chose surgery, but that might not be the best choice for you. I wrote out my thoughts leading to my decision just to help share the decision-making process that I used. I wouldn’t encourage you or anyone else to duplicate my process, but it might be helpful to read about how someone else navigated the waters. Here’s the link to that posting:

This site has a very good “Advanced Search” tool, I also wanted to point out, if you can narrow down to some key words. There are lots of collective experiences and case histories in the old threads which exist here.

Hopefully this will help you get a little further down the road. Feel free to come back with more questions as you continue to digest info (which often feels like drinking from a fire hose when at the stage you are at).

best wishes…

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