Published On: Mon, Jun 17th, 2019

Life after Prostate: What to Expect

1 in 9 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their life.

This makes it the second most common cancer, after skin cancer in American men.

Prostate cancer is likelier in men after the age of 65 and extremely rare in men under 40. While it is a serious disease, most people diagnosed with it survive it and live their lives fully.

If you or a loved one has been undergoing treatment, here is what to expect after the treatment phase.

1. A Care Plan From Your Doctor

At the tail end of your treatment, your doctor will discuss a care plan with you.

You will still need to go in for regular evaluation in the first few weeks after treatment.

In these visits, your doctor will chart your progress, track changes, and nab any new issues before they advance.

As time passes, the frequency of these appointments will taper off.

Your doctor might recommend a PSA test every six months for the first five years after treatment. After that, an annual exam will suffice.

2. Risks and Side Effects

Your treatment will have some side effects. Some will be immediate, while others will show up later on. Some will be temporary, while others will never go away completely.

Some of the more common ones include:

Fatigue

Fatigue is different from tiredness. Tiredness is what is expected after a long hard day. Fatigue, on the other hand, is a lack of energy, with unexplained whole-body tiredness.  

While sleep helps with tiredness, it does nothing or little for fatigue.

Fatigue could be brought about by chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The fatigue is likely to start during treatment and will continue after you go into remission.

Your doctor can help identify the root cause of your fatigue and suggest ways to alleviate it.

Dry orgasm and infertility

The prostate and glands responsible for sperm production are surgically removed during treatment. For this reason, you can attain an orgasm, but will not ejaculate.

If you plan to have children in the future, it would be advisable to have some sperm in a sperm bank before this surgery.

Some people in remission also have trouble having an erection. Discuss this with your doctor so he can put you on ED treatment.

Urinary problems

For people who have had surgery, being able to hold urine can be problematic.

Radiotherapy irritates the lining of the bladder and urethra. As a result, you may feel the need to urinate more frequently and with greater urgency.

3. Lifestyle Changes

It’s normal to have concerns about cancer coming back.

However, it’s best to focus on the things within your control that can help prevent cancer from recurring.  Here are some of them:

You Have to Stop Smoking

In a study, researchers found out that men who are smokers at the time of diagnosis are more likely to die from prostate cancer than the non-smokers.

Those who had quit smoking for at least ten years following their diagnosis had better outcomes as well.

The best thing you can do for your health is to quit smoking.

Work out Regularly

Regular exercise is a great way to boost your overall health. Studies have also shown that men who are obese have poorer outcomes than leaner men if the cancer returns.

Exercise also releases feel-good hormones that can boost your overall mood, and it can help you sleep better as well.

4. You Will  Need Support

Cancer takes its toll on your physical and mental health.

Even if you feel like you are coping just fine, try as much as possible not to isolate yourself.

Your family, friends, and colleagues should be your go-to for emotional support.

Apart from this circle, there are numerous in-person and online support groups for survivors of different cancers.

These groups are extremely beneficial because they bring together people that have gone through or are going through the same health issues. Talking to someone in your shoes can be insightful and comforting.

Slow Down

Surviving any type of cancer is no mean feat. It is important to acknowledge just how much strength it takes from you. Once you go into remission, try as much as possible to ease yourself back into your normal lifestyle slowly.

If ever there was a time to slow things down, this is indeed it.

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