A diagnosis of any type of cancer is scary. The uncertainty, the worry and stress over the unknown can take its toll. But what if you already knew before a cancer diagnosis what to expect? You had done your research and if that day came of a doctor saying, “You have cancer,” you’d be better prepared and equipped with some basic knowledge to help you better manage your disease and treatment.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer other than skin cancer in American men. For the year 2022, the American Cancer Society estimates that close to 267,000 men will be diagnosed with this disease and 34,500 men will die from it. During a man’s lifetime, 1 man in 8 will hear the words, “You have prostate cancer.”
As concerning as prostate cancer can be for men, what do men who’ve already been diagnosed with it, wish they had known about this disease before their diagnosis? What would they tell other men to be aware of in preparation in case they too, ever get a diagnosis of prostate cancer?
Here’s a look at 5 things men with prostate cancer wish they had known beforehand:
1. Prostate cancer often has few if any symptoms
Prostate cancer happens when abnormal cells grow and develop quicker than normal in the prostate. As this is happening, there can be few, if any symptoms noticeable to men. It’s often referred to as a “silent killer” as it grows unchecked until it becomes large enough for symptoms to finally appear. When it does become more symptomatic, a man may notice the following:
- A weaker stream of urine
- Blood in urine or semen
- Bone pain
- Unexpected weight loss
- Erectile dysfunction
- Swelling in legs or pelvic area
- Numbness, pain, or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
Because of its symptomless nature until it has become more advanced and less treatable, it’s imperative that all men starting at age 40 get an annual prostate cancer screening of having a simple PSA blood test done at their doctor’s office. By having a PSA test conducted yearly and to pay attention to any urinary, sexual, or physical changes, they can have it checked out right away to start treatment as early as possible, if diagnosed with prostate cancer.
2.Know your family history
A man’s odds of a prostate cancer diagnosis double if he has a close relative such as a father or brother who had the disease. The risk further increases if the cancer was diagnosed in a family member younger than fifty-five or if it affected three or more family members.
It’s also very important to note that African American men are nearly 50% more likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetime and twice as likely to die from the disease as men of other ethnicities. It is imperative that black men begin prostate cancer screening of getting a PSA test at least by age 40 and to know the symptoms associated with it.
3.It will impact you both emotionally and physically
Like all people diagnosed with cancer, men with prostate cancer will face multiple emotional and physical changes. Receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis can leave a man feeling emotions of fear, anxiety, depression, and worry of how the progression of the disease may impact their relationships with others. Some men may experience a sense of emasculation and guilt for developing a cancer that can affect their sex life. Loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, and discomfort with sexual intimacy are major concerns men may have leaving them feeling inadequate in their relationship with their significant other.
Physically, every man with prostate cancer will have their own unique bodily response to the cancer and treatment they receive. Some men may have adverse effects such as fatigue, increased pain, sleep disturbance, hot flashes, and frequent urination that will impact their day-to-day living. The good news is that for the majority of men, these symptoms will lessen over time.
4. There are side effects from the treatments
Depending on the grade and stage of a man’s prostate cancer, will determine what treatment path will be recommended. Since prostate cancer varies from man to man, the side effects experienced will vary also. Know that your physician will take every effort to keep you comfortable with minimal side effects as possible. Possible side effects (dependent upon the type of treatment provided) might include urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, rectal bleeding, tiredness, and nausea and weakness.
Luckily, thanks to advances in surgery and radiation therapy along with improvements in drug therapies, the severity and frequency of side effects have improved over the years. Side effects depend on several factors including cancer stage, treatment choice, and your overall health.
It’s important for men to ask questions about what side effects to expect, how to manage them, and how it may affect their relationship with their spouse and family. By developing a plan ahead of time on dealing with any side effects, this will help ease your mind if they do occur.
You can live your life with prostate cancer
Here’s the best news you should know – the overall survival rate for prostate cancer is very good. At the time of diagnosis, if the cancer is localized or regional, a man will have a 100% 5-year survival rate. However, that number drops to only 30% if the cancer has already spread at the time of diagnosis. Overall, the survival rate is 98% of men who will survive it and get on with their life.
Just like any other long-term medical condition a man may have, it always best to adopt healthy lifestyle changes keeping your overall health in check. Eat a healthy diet, exercise often, make sleep a priority, go to your follow-up appointments for your cancer, and live your life doing the things you enjoy and look forward to.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.