Prostate cancer can be treated effectively for many men, resulting in it being cured or well-managed so the cancer does not spread. If you receive a prostate cancer diagnosis and the type of prostate cancer you have is at an early stage, without it having spread to other areas of the body, you may benefit from treatments. If it is caught early enough, some doctors recommend ‘watchful waiting’ or ‘active surveillance’, which are both methods of keeping an eye on cancer to see if it requires treatment. Some of the available treatments for prostate cancer include:
• Radical prostatectomy – this is where the prostate is removed through surgery and is undertaken if the cancer has not spread out of the prostate itself. There are risks and after-effects to consider, such as you will no longer be able to ejaculate, and therefore will be unable to have a child through sex. This surgery may be successful at first but some men find that the cancer cells return afterwards
• Radiotherapy – kills cancer cells, slows progression of the disease and helps reduce symptoms. One particular form of radiotherapy offered to prostate cancer patients is brachytherapy
• Hormone therapy – often used in conjunction with other prostate cancer treatments, hormone therapy can relieve symptoms and slow down prostate cancer. This blocks testosterone production from occurring naturally in the body, because cancer cells need testosterone to duplicate. There are multiple side effects of this, and a man undergoing hormone therapy may lose their sex drive, find it difficult to maintain or get an erection, and have other physical symptoms such as weight gain, sweats, hot flushes and swelling of the breasts, due to a lack of testosterone
Men who have advanced prostate cancer may be offered chemotherapy and/or steroid tablets. Steroid treatment for prostate cancer aims to shrink the tumour and is used if hormone therapy does not work. Some men in later life choose not to treat their advanced prostate cancer, if they feel they are getting towards the end of their life and that treatment would be invasive or too much to deal with.
The NHS provides lots of information about prostate cancer treatments.
Prostate cancer products
Daily living aid products can be useful for men with prostate cancer. Prostate cancer may cause incontinence problems for some men. There are many incontinence products available to help you manage this discreetly and without embarrassment, such as:
• Incontinence pads
• Waterproof bedding
• Waterproof chair protectors
Some men also find that using toileting aids such as a commode can help if they find they have an urgent need to urinate and struggle to get to the toilet in time:
• Folding Commode
• Traditional Commode
For men who have advanced prostate cancer, daily living aids can provide support around the home if mobility is challenging due to pain or discomfort around the body:
• Taking a bath: Bath lift, bath rail, bath step
• Having a shower: Shower stool or shower chair
• Using the toilet: Toilet frame with seat, raised toilet seat, or commode
• Standing for long periods: Perching stool
• Getting in and out of bed: Bed rails, mattress elevators, bed ladders
• Getting in and out of a chair: Rise and recline chairs, lifting cushions and chair raisers
If you are unsure what prostate cancer products may help you, contact our Occupational Therapist Product Advice team for free by calling 0345 121 8111 or emailing [email protected]
Prostate cancer diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for everybody, and if you have been given a diagnosis of prostate cancer, getting the right nutrition is essential. Certain foods and diets can increase or decrease our cancer risk. For example, eating high fibre foods and enough fruit and vegetables can help reduce our risk of cancer, whereas eating too much processed or red meat can increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
For more cancer diet advice, visit the Cancer Research UK website.
The NHS website provides lots of healthy eating information, recipes and weight loss advice you may find helpful.
Some men may be advised to take vitamin and mineral supplements for prostate cancer. This is often important if you are receiving hormone therapy treatment, because this can cause thinning of the bones, and supplements like vitamin D and calcium help protect bones. Some men may also need to take iron tablets, as their condition may make them anaemic.
There are many other supplements available which are marketed to help prevent prostate problems and prostate cancer, such as lycopene, selenium and omega-3. However, there is little scientific evidence that prostate cancer supplements reduce the risk of developing this condition. Always speak to your GP before taking supplements of any sort to ensure they will not interfere with your treatments for prostate cancer.
Exercise for prostate cancer
Regular, moderate intensity exercise is important for everyone, to help reduce the risk of many healthcare conditions and help us maintain a healthy weight.
It’s really important for men with prostate cancer to try and establish a regular exercise regime, because research shows that physical activity after cancer treatment can help reduce the risk of dying from prostate cancer and actually slow down the progression of the disease. Not only can prostate cancer exercise help with the management of this condition, it can also help reduce the risk of developing other healthcare conditions such as coronary heart disease, angina, dementia and more.
Your cancer doctor or GP may be able to refer you to a physiotherapy service, where you can seek support in developing a reasonable exercise programme that takes into account your symptoms and any physical limitations you may have. Alternatively, you may be able to access your local gym, or simply go for a regular walk or bike ride – whatever your abilities, there is a way to make your body move more. For more advice on prostate cancer and exercise visit the Prostate Cancer UK website.
Prostate cancer and employment
Many men with a prostate cancer diagnosis continue to work. It is likely you may need some time off work for prostate cancer treatments but many men find their employers are very supportive.
Your employer has to make reasonable adjustments to your working life if you require them, in order to enable you to continue working to your utmost ability and ensure the highest level of wellbeing for you.
Many men with prostate cancer experience fatigue at some stage in their journey, which can sometimes be difficult to deal with, especially if it is during their time at work. Find out more about coping with fatigue.
If you are unable to work for a short or long term period, you may wish to explore disability benefits that you are entitled to receive – for more information, visit the Money Advice Service.
For more information on prostate cancer and work, visit the Prostate Cancer UK website.