Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men in the UK and survival rates are considered generally high. It’s more common among men over the age of 50. Rebecca Minton, Cancer Nurse Specialist at Reframe, shares her advice on ways to cope with prostate cancer.
Living with prostate cancer and the side effects of treatment can affect your everyday life and work. The impact on your mind, body and relationships is likely to take a toll, so don’t be afraid to speak to someone about it – there is lots of help available. Try to keep an open dialogue with your employer in case you need extra breaks to help manage your side effects or want to work part time through treatment. If you need help around the home, your local council or GP can give you advice on accessing help such as a carer or temporary equipment.
It can be hard to cope with emotionally as well as physically.
Shock, anger, denial, loneliness and stress are all common thoughts and feelings. As you go through the good days and the bad days, it about making the most of the days you feel well and finding ways to get through the tough ones.
After treatment, some men may be able to put their experience behind them, while others may continue to have side effects or worry about cancer returning indefinitely. In some cases, the cancer may come back and spread to other parts of the body. There is effective treatment to help keep the cancer cells under control (usually hormone therapy), but this doesn’t stop those who have to live with cancer from finding life difficult and stressful.
Types of treatment for prostate cancer
There are many forms of treatment used to treat prostate cancer, the main ones being:
- Surgical removal of the prostate
- Hormonal therapy
Each treatment comes with a list of side effects that men must cope with beyond treatment. It is important that every man is aware of the potential long-term implications involved with prostate treatment and know what side effects to look out for.
Tips on living life to the fullest
Here’s some suggestions on how to improve your long-term health and lower any chance of the cancer reoccurring:
Getting emotional support
Some men are affected more than others, but feelings of depression, anxiety, or worry are perfectly normal and can change at any time. You may be unhappy, more tearful than usual or lose interest in the things you love. If you notice these in yourself, inform your GP or speak to others regularly, whether that is friends and family, religious groups, support groups, professional counsellors etc. Learning ways to relax may also help such as yoga and meditation.
Living a healthy lifestyle
Focus on a healthy well-balanced diet with adequate fluid intake and try to cut down on alcohol consumption and caffeine products (tea and coffee). Prostate Cancer UK found that regular exercise after cancer treatment can slow cancer progression by up to 57%. It can also help give you something to set your mind to and lift your mood. Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) are equally important, especially after surgery in order to keep your pelvic floor muscles and bladder tight to stop the chances of long-term incontinence.
Coming to terms with your sexuality
Prostate cancer treatment can often affect sexual function. Learning to be comfortable with your body during and after prostate cancer treatment is a personal journey. The effect on sexual function may be short-term or long-term and many different interventions such as medication, erectile dysfunction pumps, injections, testosterone replacement etc. can be used to try to regain full function of the penis.
It’s vital to use these appointments to discuss any changes, concerns or ongoing issues that you are having. Within these check-ups a regular PSA blood test and scans, bone density check-ups will take place.
Focus on the moments that matter
If you have advanced prostate cancer, you find it particularly hard or upsetting to think about future. However, making plans for the future may help you feel more prepared and have other than cancer to focus on. Everyone’s journey is unique, so take each stage at your own pace.
Find out if you’re eligible for our support or speak to your HR team.