Upon hearing the words, “You have prostate cancer,” men will likely experience a wide range of emotions while being walked through terminology around the diagnosis and being expected to make life-altering medical decisions.
Take a Moment to Consider Standard of Care Options
Take a breath, stay calm and take stock of the situation. There are many treatment options, depending on age, cancer status and general health. Newer imaging techniques and genomic testing may help men choose from the various treatment options.
Joining a support group can provide wisdom from others’ experiences and the camaraderie of those who are on similar journeys. The international prostate cancer organization, Us Too, has support groups all over the country as well as a network of men who are available for one-on-one support and online support resources.
Empower Yourself with Knowledge
Educate yourself on available treatment options and their associated side effects. This can be overwhelming as there is a lot of constantly changing information available online. A site like US TOO is a good start for the latest information. Many men actually begin to feel less anxious as they become more knowledgeable and take control of their prostate cancer and treatment options.
Get a Second Opinion
Before embarking on treatment, get a second opinion from another doctor who is experienced with treating prostate cancer. If appropriate, consider active surveillance. Make sure you discuss options and that your priorities align with your physician.
Keep Anxiety and Depression in Check
It is important to be conscious of your mental health throughout your journey. It is an emotional process. Many men are prone to anxiety and/or depression arising through the different stages of prostate cancer from testing to post-treatment. These feelings are very common and often go unaddressed. You must be aware of not only your physical health but your mental state and discuss it with medical professionals. They can offer different methods of treatment, from meditation to medication.
Talk to your doctor about diet, exercise and lifestyle for the times both before and after treatment. A heart-healthy diet is generally equivalent to a prostate-healthy diet. Regular exercise will help keep your body in shape. Kegel exercises are good for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles before and after the procedure and have been known to help speed the recovery process. A medical professional can explain the proper way to do these exercises.
Many treatment options have side effects such incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Talk to your doctor about ways to minimize these. In addition to following the doctor’s advice, men should try to stick to their normal (healthy) routines as much as possible. Rest, eat healthy, exercise and do enjoyable things. Once a man is diagnosed, he will have to continually monitor his condition with regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests for the rest of his life, but managing prostate cancer should not dictate or define his life. He should continue to live his life to the fullest.