Living Post Prostate Cancer
Are you aware that prostate cancer is the second most commonly occurring malignancy in males (second only to the skin cancer). According to latest statistics reported by the American Cancer Society, more than 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer were reported in the year 2015. Besides high morbidity, the mortality rate due to prostate cancer is also fairly high. In 2015, malignancy of prostate gland claimed 27,540 lives (1) second only to liver cancer.
Experts suggest that the lifetime risk of developing prostate malignancy is 1 in 7 (1).
Prostate Cancer- What to Expect?
Prostate cancer is more common in older men as more than 60% cases are reported in men over the age of 65 years. In fact, the risk of developing prostate cancer in men under age 40 is negligible. Fortunately, due to excellent diagnostic and treatment facilities, the cancer survival rate is fairly high and according to latest estimates, there are more than 2.9 million prostate cancer survivors in the United States. However, it is logical to assume that the quality of life suffers a great deal in patients unless sound measures are adopted.
If you are battling prostate cancer, you should know that you are not alone. It is very important to take extra care of your health and wellness. Following some simple tips can help in restoring the optimal quality of life:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables can definitely help in improving the immunity and overall health; especially when you are exposed to a number of hazardous drugs with potential side-effects. Most men tend to lose a lot of weight during cancer treatment (regardless of the treatment method), therefore it is very important to speak to a nutritionist or dietitian for best advice.
- Adopt healthy physical activities as part of your daily routine. According to a new study, men who spend at least 3 hours or more in vigorous training are 60% less likely to die from prostate cancer (3).
- Consume healthy supplements (vitamins and antioxidants) after speaking to your healthcare professional.
Pelvic Floor Training For Urinary Complaints
Men with prostate cancer are usually old and often have preexisting erectile dysfunction and urinary symptoms. Unfortunately, the severity of symptoms aggravates in most cases after primary treatment (surgical intervention as well as radio/chemotherapy). All such patients can greatly benefit from pelvic floor strengthening exercises. According to a new study reported in the European Urology journal (4), investigators suggested that 19% patients who adopted early pelvic floor rehabilitation and training reported a marked improvement in the urinary continence over a period of just 4 weeks and more than 94.6% patients complete resolution of symptoms with just 6 months of pelvic training.
- If you are experiencing incomplete emptying of bladder, you can also practice ‘double voiding’ which means peeing again soon after voiding once. This will take out any urine that’s left after the first effort.
- Also try to make it a habit to urinate every three to four hours in the daytime while you are awake, so that you do not have to visit the washroom frequently at night.
- Avoid irritants and excessive consumption of caffeinated/ alcoholic beverages.
Prostate Cancer – Impact On Sexual And Emotional Health
Prostate cancer and its treatment can significantly alter the quality of your life. Many men develop erectile dysfunction, low libido, depression, ejaculation disturbances and other sexual disorders. Needless to say that these symptoms can also compromise your sex life. Therefore, it is very important to allow open communication with your partner. Most men are uncomfortable in talking about their problems but lack of communication may damage your relationship as well as treatment process. Here are a few tips that can make your sex life during cancer journey less challenging:
- Couples counseling: Battling with serious diseases like cancer can be stressful; not just for the ones who are suffering, but also for their partners and families. It is very important to seek help in time from healthcare professionals and care-givers. You can opt for counseling and therapy, so you can talk about your struggle and stressors. Having your partner by your side also helps in opening in resolving issues to yield more satisfying results.
- Never compare your sex life: Erectile dysfunction may not be a big issue if partners support each other and enjoy their intimate time rather than complaining or comparing with others. As ED is much common now and once in a while facing erectile problems is considered fairly normal.
- Join a support group: Talking and networking with people who are also battling (or surviving) prostate cancer can give a ray of hope to boost the confidence and self-esteem.
- Continue your follow-up visits: Prostate cancer has a fairly high recurrence rate. According to latest data, approximately 25 – 33% patients experience a recurrence of cancer that is marked by rising PSA levels. It is very important to stay on top of your periodic follow-up visits to detect malignant changes or recurrence.
2. Resnick, M. J., Koyama, T., Fan, K. H., Albertsen, P. C., Goodman, M., Hamilton, A. S., … & Van Horn, R. L. (2013). Long-term functional outcomes after treatment for localized prostate cancer. New England Journal of Medicine, 368(5), 436-445.
4. Filocamo, M. T., Marzi, V. L., Del Popolo, G., Cecconi, F., Marzocco, M., Tosto, A., & Nicita, G. (2005). Effectiveness of early pelvic floor rehabilitation treatment for post-prostatectomy incontinence. European urology, 48(5), 734-738.