Keeping sight of the fact that prostate cancer patients need support once treatment stops is important. Many of them suffer from long-term symptoms as a result of the impact the surgeries and drugs, that saved their lives, have had on their bodies.
Responsible clinicians discuss the potential for these long-term issues with their patients, to make sure that their decision to accept treatment is a fully informed one. They also ensure that they are aware of the latest therapies and drugs that can be used to help their patients to cope with those side effects.
Unfortunately, around 75% of men, who are treated for, or have, prostate cancer suffer from some form of erectile dysfunction. For some, the loss of function is a temporary one. But, for most, it is a permanent change. However, new options like P-Shot treatment are proving to be helpful.
The procedure involves harvesting some of the man’s plasma and injecting it into specific areas of the penis. Once there the growth factors that are present work to heal and rejuvenate the penis. Interest in Platelet Rich Plasma PRP therapies is on the increase and research is ongoing.
Urinary incontinence is another common side effect of prostate cancer and treatment. Some men only experience leakage, while others completely lose control of their bladders. Increased urinary urgency and frequency are also an issue for most prostate cancer patients.
Over time, most men find that nearly full control returns. But, for around 25% of patients that never happens. In the past, the use of absorbent products and male external catheters used to be the best option that was available.
But, things are changing. Many men are finding that behavioral training is helping them to have better control over when they need to use the bathroom. Physical therapy, such as Kegel exercises, can also help men to recover some control over their bladder. Biofeedback electrical stimulation is also becoming more widely available as are collagen injections and artificial urinary sphincters.
After treatment for any cancer, it is not uncommon for patients to go through a period of depression. If it goes on for too long and is not treated it is an issue that can affect them for life.
Standard treatments such as drugs and talking therapies are now increasingly being complemented with other therapies. Research has shown that prostate cancer support groups have a positive impact on most patients including those that have developed depression. They help to reduce anxiety as well as provide information about how to cope with the long-term effects of the disease.
During treatment, most cancer patients feel fatigued. This comes as no surprise to them. But, when 6 months to a year after treatment ceases they still feel that way, they naturally become worried.
In that situation, patients need guidance on how to adapt to the fact that this lack of energy is very likely to be long-term. They also need targeted advice about nutrition. For example, B vitamins can help to reduce how fatigued they feel. Other possible causes such as an underactive thyroid are also now routinely explored, which was rarely done, in the past.
There is no doubt that with the right support, prostate cancer patients can go on to enjoy a long life. But, only with the right support will they go on to lead productive ones, which they also enjoy.