The questions most men ask?
Am I going to die?
If you do not have symptoms prior to your diagnosis then there is a good chance that you may be curable because removal of the cancer within the prostate gland will prevent the possibility of metastases (transfer to other parts of the body). Further, the cancer is usually slow growing so older men will probably die with it rather than from it.
Do I have to have an operation?
There are several kinds of treatment from operation, radiation, hormones, heat treatment, etc, but your Doctor will advise which is the most suitable for your condition. The Doctor may even advise watchful waiting if your diagnosis shows that the cancer is minor and it is not necessary at this stage to disrupt your life style. This is particular important for young men who do not need to suffer any of the sexual or incontinence side effects of treatment.
Can I get a second opinion?
Always ask your Doctor. You may want to investigate alternative treatments. You may also find that talking to another specialist will help you understand your situation since the first time you get your diagnosis tends to cause shock and this usually blocks out the questions you should be asking. Remember, the cancer is usually slow growing so you have time to reflect on your decision.
What are the side effects of treatment?
Advances in treatments over the years has improved patient outcomes. Both the operation and radiation can lead to both incontinence and erectile dysfunction. This is not always the case unless the necessary nerves are unable to be spared. This can occur when a man has waited for symptoms before seeking help. In that case, the cancer may have already escaped the prostate gland. There are techniques for overcoming both of these side effects so that men can lead reasonably normal lives. Your Doctor can advise on the side effects for the particular treatment you choose. However, men who were already suffering from erectile dysfunction before treatment are unlikely to find an improvement without additional attention. Treatments for these side effects should start before any treatment for the cancer.
Where can I get more information?
There is a multitude of information on the Internet including YouTube videos but be aware that many are posted by practitioners or medical institutes promoting their skills. Use discretion and, if unsure, talk to your Doctor. Support groups can offer a different form of assistance in that you are able to speak to men who have already been on the journey you are about to take. This group has a library of text and videos that can prove useful for making decisions and also getting knowledge about treatments.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia has a Telenursing Service where men can get all sorts of information about the cancer, its treatments and also depression advice. Phone 1800 22 00 99.
What about my partner?
Your partner should always be involved in the decision making since the preferred treatment may have an effect on both your social and sexual activity. Also remember that your partner may have health problems of their own and this will help you to decide whether a particular treatment is appropriate.
Will the treatment affect my physical activity?
This is unlikely once you have recovered from the initial effects of treatment (such as an operation). Provided, of course, that you were active before the treatment.
What if I get depressed after the diagnosis?
It is not unusual for a man, and his partner, to be in shock after diagnosis but this can be overcome by talking to a Doctor. Further distress can also occur if there are significant side effects after treatment. Apart from seeking advice from your Doctor, there are specialist organisations that can help you through this troublesome period. Refer to the contact listing of these groups elsewhere in the web site.
Don’t forget that support groups are a very good way of helping to overcome such depression by contact with other men and partners, specialist talks, the opportunity to talk to speakers and, of course, the camaraderie associated with the group members and the group’s social activities. See the comments on “Social Activity” in the “Information” menu.