Every year, more than 170,000 American adult men are diagnosed with prostate year.
There are also more than 30,000 men in the country who die of prostate cancer each year1.
While about 90% of cases related to prostate cancer are localized, there are scenarios where prostate cancer spread to other parts of the body.
In this case, treating the disease is hard. Prostate cancer does not necessarily only affect the man diagnosed with the disease.
The diagnoses can often have an impact on the partner of the male patient too. Other loved ones may also be adversely affected by the diagnosis and seek means of dealing with prostate cancer.
A person whose partner received a prostate cancer diagnosis should understand what they can do to support it.
Whether prostate cancer treatment includes active surveillance or more intensive treatment, the disease can cause stress, anxiety, and other complications.
We look at what a person can do to support a loved one during treatment and recovery.
What can you do to support your partner with their diagnosis?
The most common question from a person whose loved one was diagnosed with prostate cancer is how they can be supportive.
The disease puts stress on the patient and their loved ones. It is a tough time. Understand how to cope with the situation can make things at least a little easier. The reality is – people with prostate cancer need support.
One of the best ways to be supportive is for a person to learn more about prostate cancer first. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men.
Information is readily available. Whether talking to a healthcare provider or searching online. Learning more about how prostate cancer works is definitely the first step to take.
It is also important to ensure the patient understands their partner is available for support. They should be able to talk about the disease freely. Discussions about treatments should also be important.
Apart from learning about prostate cancer, understanding the treatment options is important too. The same applies for the recovery period after treatment has been completed.
These facts will help a person understand how to prepare for these phases.
A partner of a patient with prostate cancer also needs to be understanding. Prostate cancer can cause a person to experience complications. One example would be erectile dysfunction symptoms.
When the patient develops these symptoms, a demanding partner can become upsetting. The patient with prostate cancer feels less confident due to the complications of prostate cancer.
- It can sometimes also be useful for a loved one to accompany a patient to a doctor’s appointment. If a partner accompanies the patient, they should listen closely to the details provided by the primary care physician. A lot of information may be shared in a single hospital appointment. Taking notes can be helpful.
- The patient with prostate cancer has a lot of stress. They might easily forget important details shared by the doctor. Notes were taken during the appointment to ensure these details will not be forgotten.
- At the same time, it is important to note that a doctor may not wish to speak to a loved one. The patient might have to give the doctor permission first. If this is the case, it is important to make these arrangements early on.
Your role in treatment choices and decisions
There are a few different treatments when it comes to prostate cancer. Each treatment comes with a set of pros and cons that a patient will need to consider.
It is important for the partner to be involved in the decision-making process too. The side-effects and complications of these treatments could ultimately impact the partner as well.
Understanding what prostate cancer is
The first step is for the patient and their partner to visit a doctor. A full overview of the patient’s treatment options should be obtained, alongside the possible side effects that could lessen the quality of life.
This will help the partner and the patient understand what can be done about prostate cancer. It also allows the patient to talk to their partner about these options.
The doctor will be able to describe the complications associated with each treatment with the patient, as well as their partner. In some cases, there may be side-effects like poor erectile function after treatment.
Understanding and researching the treatment options
Deciding between different treatments can be a hard process. Radiation will usually be among the suggested treatments. Unfortunately, some men might have to undergo a more invasive treatment. This may involve prostate surgery such as radical prostatectomy, to remove the prostate gland or the tissue that was affected by cancer.
Treatments will also depend on the severity of the condition. Metastatic prostate cancer will often require faster treatment. The treatment will also generally be more invasive when the patient has metastatic prostate cancer.
On the other hand, when the patient is diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer, treatment may not be as invasive.
In such a case, the decision on the appropriate treatment may be easier and less stressful. Still, the partner and patient should both talk about diagnosis and treatment.
The decision should be made after the patient has discussed the options, and an agreement was made. At the same time, the partner of the patient should never force them into a treatment that they are not comfortable with.
Where can you find out more about prostate cancer?
Due to the prevalence of prostate cancer, there are a lot of ways for patients to gain more insight into the disease. Loved ones, including the partner of the individual diagnosed with prostate cancer, are also able to find details about prostate cancer and potential treatments.
Most people will find that a healthcare provider/ urologist can offer specific answers related to a patient in particular. This can be useful, as the physician can specify information such as how advanced prostate cancer is. The doctor can also advise on a personalized treatment program. Side-effects of treatment can also be discussed with the doctor.
There are other sources for information too. Many people turn their search to the internet to help them learn more. The National Cancer Institute has several resources dedicated to prostate cancer2. This is a very useful resource for the patient and their loved ones.
Another excellent online source is the Prostate Cancer page at the Genetics Home Reference website3. This website also offers a series of informational articles about prostate cancer and offers prostate cancer support.
These resources help people understand what prostate cancer is. They also outline the available treatments. Natural supplements for prostate cancer may also be discussed here.
When looking at information on the internet, caution is needed. A person should ensure the website they retrieve information from is trustworthy. Whether looking at how hormone therapy for prostate cancer can be useful or trying to determine if surgery is an appropriate option.
Consider reading online about prostate cancer on websites by Universities. Official governmental websites, such as the National Health Institute, also offer valuable information. You can also check out our website for articles discussing prostate cancer symptoms, causes, treatments, and side effects.
Taking care of yourself
A loved one whose partner was diagnosed with prostate cancer can easily forget about themselves. They turn all of their focus to their partner. The goal here is to help their partner cope with the disease. Ultimately, the partner’s survival is all that matters.
This can be unfortunate. When a person fails to care for themselves, their health may suffer in the process. Thus, the partner of a patient with a diagnosis of prostate cancer needs to focus on taking care of themselves as well. This should be important during the entire process.
The partner should set aside time for themselves. They need to look after their own well-being. When they show symptoms of any illness – they should not go unnoticed.
The partner should note that they are suffering from this diagnosis too. Getting professional help is something they should consider when things get tough. There are support groups available for people who have a partner diagnosed with cancer. This includes those with a partner that was recently told they have prostate cancer.
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are very common among cancer patients. Studies explain that healthcare professionals are advised specifically to look out for mental health issues in cancer patients4. These problems can make it harder for a patient to cope with and manage their prostate health.
Anxiety and depression are problems that partners often pick up on as well. This can make them feel concerned about the man diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Support can be provided by assuring the male patient that their partner is available when they need to talk. It is important that the patient and their partner talk about the fears that come with the diagnosis.
The partner should understand why the patient is feeling anxious and depressed. The disease is a contributing factor. This is not a doubt. Sometimes, however, the complications can also be a concern. Men who experience erectile function problems may feel depressed.
A partner can assure them that they are understanding. The poor erectile function is not a concern for them. There are other ways for the two to still be intimate and feel close to one another.
How can you reconnect with your partner after treatment?
When treatment has been initiated, a recovery phase is needed. Unfortunately, many prostate cancer patients tend to withdraw from loved ones during treatment. It is a stressful time for them. Following treatment, it is time for the patient to reconnect with their partner.
This can still be a stressful time. Recurrent tests are needed to ensure the treatment was successful. The doctor needs to be sure that all cancerous cells were removed or destroyed.
Honest communication is a key factor here. Each person needs to discuss their needs with the other. Communication should, after all, be a critical factor in any relationship.
When it is difficult for the two partners to talk to each other, then they should consider seeing a therapist together. This can at least help them initiate a conversation about their sexual desires and needs.
It is also important to remember that a temporary dysfunction in the patient’s sexual abilities does not mean there cannot be intimacy. It is possible for the two partners to be intimate without having sex.
How to stay close to your partner
When the male patient survives prostate cancer, their partner will want to remain close to them. Once the two have reconnected, it is important to maintain the connection. This can sometimes pose challenging for some couples. The problems can become worse when the sexual function and desires of the two differ after treatment.
It is important to consider the options that are available. If erectile dysfunction is a problem, a couple of solutions is available.
- There are certain natural ways to improve erectile function after prostate cancer treatment. Taking certain natural supplements can be useful. Other natural remedies for erectile dysfunction exists as well.
- The male patient should also avoid certain things. For example, there are foods that cause erectile dysfunction. These foods could make erectile dysfunction symptoms worse.
- The use of a vacuum pump can also be considered. This is a useful way of stimulating an erection. It works relatively quickly. The downside is there will not be any more spontaneous sessions of sexual intercourse.
- The use of an erectile dysfunction drug could also be considered. The patient, as well as their partner, should discuss the possible side-effects before considering this solution.
Being diagnosed with prostate cancer can be tough for any man, regardless of their age or mental stability. When this diagnosis is made, men will often need to rely on loved ones around them. The support can help the man better cope with the diagnosis, as well as the treatments that they need to undergo.