Prostate Cancer Information for Spouse and Partners
Prostate cancer is usually associated with a favorable prognosis, with more than 99% people living a functional, disease-free life after initial treatment. However, due to the ‘bad air’ associated with the word ‘cancer’ a lot of victims as well as their families get panicky after hearing the diagnosis.
If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may have many questions or concerns; such as:
- What are my chances?
- What to do next?
- Does it matter what stage of cancer, I am on?
- What if my condition gets worse over the course of illness?
- If not untreated, can I die of prostate cancer?
- What are my treatment options? What are the relevant side effects of treatment? And most importantly, should I even go for the treatment route?
Likewise, your spouse may have all these questions as well with an additional query – How can I as a spouse contribute?
All these are logical questions, but fortunately the correct answers to these questions are encouraging and promising.
Prostate Cancer – Some basic info:
The prostate lies under the bladder, completely surrounding the urethra for most parts of its course. Cancer in the prostate is the result of malignant, uncontrolled, poorly regulated growth potential of abnormal cells, which may start off slowly but can lead to serious consequences if proper treatment is not initiated. Normally, human body has a tendency to prevent over-growth of abnormal cells via an intricate and detailed system of check and balance; however, at times the surveillance mechanisms fail and may culminate in malignancy.
There are four stages for prostate cancer, which are:
- Stage I – cancer is limited to the prostate gland.
- Stage II – cancer mass is larger in size but still confined to prostatic capsule.
- Stage III – cancer cells have spread to involve surrounding tissues like seminal vesicles.
- Stage IV – cancer cells have spread to distant tissues and organs via blood vessels and lymphatics.
Obviously, you don’t have to go in the intricate details of the prostatic cancer; for simplicity, you should know that there are three scenarios:
- Early-stage: Cancer is limited to the prostate gland, but has been detected.
- Advanced stage: Cancer cells spread beyond the confines of glandular capsule and is now involving normal tissues.
- Hormonal stage: The prognosis is usually poor in this stage; however certain therapies and interventions can help in reducing the pain and improving the overall survival.
Treatment Options used for the Management of Prostate Cancer:
Some treatments that are commonly used across the globe are:
- Hormone Therapy: Since male hormones are responsible for stimulating and fueling the abnormal growth of prostatic cells, one of the treatment modality is to lower the concentration of endogenous male hormones in order to limit the abnormal growth.
- Chemotherapy: This method involves the destruction of tumor cells via chemotherapeutic drugs.
- Radiation: This technique utilizes high energy beams to kill the abnormal cells. The aim of this therapy is to kill or destroy large portion of the tumor in order to facilitate immune therapies or chemotherapies to completely eliminate the tumor mass.
- Watchful waiting: In individuals who have stage 1 or stage 2 malignancy and have several co-morbid medical issues (such as advanced age, uncontrolled health issues such as diabetes or hypertension etc. that may increase the risk of complications if interventions are performed) healthcare providers usually practice watchful waiting.
- Surgery: Removal of the prostate gland
Role of a Partner or Spouse in Prostate Cancer Treatment Journey:
The spouse can play a tremendous role in providing the love, care, attention and much needed support that the prostate patient demands. It is logical to assume that the victim of prostate cancer experience a lot of stress, anxiety and depression during the entire process due to emotional and mental challenges.
Your partner can boost the morale of the cancer victim through various ways:
- Encourage the patient to speak since a lot of people may feel uncomfortable in sharing their pain or distress with a stranger (such as doctors and therapists). It can be achieved easily, if you opt to get yourself educated along with your partner regarding the treatment options and facilitating the patient in sharing his feelings and concerns with you.
- Join support groups and meet with individuals who have overcome this disease. With the help of these meeting, you can get information about their journey and how their partners dealt with it.
- Cancer patients may feel worried and down because of the fear and anxiety associated with the cost of therapy, treatment methods, complications, outcome of therapy and other related issues. The comforting company of a caring partner can help in diverting the patient’s attention towards positive thoughts and activities.
- Lifestyle change is another good option for those who are suffering to introduce more healthy and productive changes. Regular check-ups, examinations, and a healthy diet are proved to be beneficial during the treatment process. Make sure to keep these patients involved in the daily housework or routine tasks and home activities to alleviate stress.
- Increasing your social network through support groups and online communities give you an opportunity to get experienced advice, as many people who recovered from this disease are active on social forums and community forums.
Self-care is a crucial aspect when dealing with a man having prostate cancer, which is at times difficult and frustrating, giving a lot of depression and stress. So keep yourself mentally and physically fit in order to achieve the task in a better way. Getting counseling from a psychologist for encouragement and motivation is also a better option to treat prostate cancer patient.
Healthcare providers recommend partners and spouses to educate themselves about the prostate cancer pathogenesis, symptomatology, treatment options, danger signs and advanced options of care. It is believed that a caring spouse can help a great deal in making sensible choices in deciding the treatment process. This task is difficult to achieve single-handedly so you should include people from your friends and family network to ease the process and also help in achieving the desired satisfaction.