By Jan Manarite, VP of Advocacy & Education
If you are a prostate cancer patient, the urologist is most likely the physician who did your biopsy, gave you your diagnosis, your Gleason Score, and discussed your treatment options with you. He may have discussed prostate surgery (prostatectomy), especially since he/she is a surgeon. The urologist is the first doctor you see, deal with and probably develop a bond with since he delivered the message that you had cancer.
A medical oncologist is a cancer doctor who treats all types of cancer. In some other cancers, he is the first doctor you see, not the surgeon. In prostate cancer, he is often the third doctor you see, after the urologist and the radiation oncologist. This can be confusing for patients. They may not know which one to see or even if they have a choice. I would argue that you always have a choice and ultimately it is always up to you, the patient. Period.
I walked the prostate cancer journey with my husband for 13 years. He was metastatic at diagnosis, so we saw a medical oncologist in the first week. In fact, he was so advanced that he never had a prostate biopsy. His diagnosis came from a metastatic tumor removed from his spine. So his case is completely different than most men. But I did learn to work through the system, trying to keep him and his cancer as the most important things.
Here are some differences between most urologists and medical oncologists that should help you decide who you would like to see for your prostate cancer care.
|Trained in surgery?||Yes||No|
|Trained in internal medicine?||No||Yes|
|Trained in hematology?
(issues of the blood)
|Trained in pain management?||Usually No||Usually Yes|
hormone therapy shots?
|Can administer chemotherapy?||No||Yes|
|Can administer Xgeva or Prolia?||Yes||Yes|
|Can write prescriptions?||Yes||Yes|
|Can check CBC bloodwork (hemoglobin,
white blood cells, platelets, etc.) –
same day/in house
|Usually no||Usually yes|
|Has dedicated, clinical
or Physician Assistant
For further reference –