As you may already know, November is also fondly known as Movember; the month of awareness for prostate cancer. Although this topic may appear to be of interest to men only, I can assure you that as a nurse and woman having seen men very close to me (my dad at age 65 and life partner at age 52) diagnosed and treated for this disease, I find the subject just as important to women who have men they care for in their life.
Prostate cancer is the most common diagnosed cancer among Canadian men, although the death rate has been declining by 4% per year between 2001 and 2009. Every man should be encouraged to speak to his health care professional if he has:
- difficulty with urination
- the urgency to urinate and frequency at night
- burning or pain with urination painful ejaculation
- blood in his sperm.
The chances of getting prostate cancer increase quickly after the age of 50. It is strongly recommended for men to get PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood testing and a digital rectal exam as part of their yearly screening. Prostate Cancer Canada recommends men at age 40 to do one PSA testing to establish base line.
If you know a man who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it is a disease that affects not only him, but his loved ones as well.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind that are important in dealing with a man who is affected by this disease:
- Communication and support – Accompany your partner to his doctor visit and bring a paper and pen to take notes as there will be a lot of information to take during the appointments.
- Dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment can be difficult and you may need a therapist or support group to help.
Some of the treatments available today include:
- Active surveillance
- Radical/Robotic prostatectomy
- Radiation therapy – external beams or radioactive implants
- Hormone therapy
- New treatments and clinical trials
- Complementary and alternatives therapies
Once treated you still have to deal with the complications post-treatment. It may begin in the bedroom, but it has a way of disrupting other areas of his and/or your life from your relationship to the man’s self-esteem.
The most common complications of treatment are erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Incontinence is temporary in most men but about 10% will continue to have stress incontinence.
Coming to terms with the new him:
If erection cannot be achieved post-treatment speak to your healthcare professional about current treatments for erectile dysfunction such as;
- Erectile dysfunction drugs
- Vacuum device
- Penal suppositories
This has been a very brief overview of some of the things we thought you should know about prostate cancer. If you or a loved one would like to know more about this disease and or what is being done to raise awareness and funds for research, we invite you to have a look at Prostate Cancer Canada’s website at www.prostatecancer.ca .
Prostate Cancer, Montreal West-Island Support Group
Prostate Cancer Support Group
Jewish General Hospital
514-340-8222 EXT 3198
Source: Prostate Cancer Canada