You Have Been Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer – Now What?
I have written about the subject of prostate cancer in the past. Two of my previous blogs deal with the subjects of prostate cancer in general and the controversy surrounding PSA testing. The two articles can be found here:
Let’s assume that you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, 233,000 men will be diagnosed with the disease in 2014 and statistically, one in seven men will be diagnosed during their lives. I think it is important to know that there is a new model of treatment thankfully, but slowly emerging. In the past, the tendency was to concentrate on the tumor with the tendency to rush to radical (oftentimes unneeded) treatment frequently in the form of a radical prostatectomy. The result was a high percentage of men left to deal with negative, often life altering side-effects the result of a treatment for a disease that in many cases would have had no effect on the patient’s longevity had they not been treated.
One example that comes to mind is a friend of mine who upon being diagnosed with prostate cancer took the attitude, “I want this out of my body,” and underwent an immediate radical prostatectomy. He now describes his sex life as “trying to make love with a rope.” So many patients simply took the advice of their urologist/surgeon and hoping for the best, went ahead with a radical treatment that may or may not have been needed. It has been recently shown that a very high percentage of men who underwent radical prostatectomies would have remained asymptomatic throughout their lives with no treatment, but in many cases are now living with disturbing side effects of the surgery.
The emerging model promotes you, the patient, to the job of Captain of your fate and how you deal with your disease. Although some forms of prostate cancer are quite aggressive leaving only the choice of what type of treatment to have, a high percentage of the cancers are very slow growing, non-aggressive types that will not become symptomatic in the patient’s life time. You must do the thorough research and ferret out every possible choice. There is no rush to make a decision. My personal suggestion is to engage the services of a urological oncologist. Understandably, if your urologist is a surgeon, the tendency will be to guide you to the treatment he knows and trusts – surgery. There will undoubtedly be no effort to ascertain the underlying cause of your issues. A urological oncologist has no horse in the race and will guide you in an unbiased manner towards the best tack for you. Unfortunately, there are only about 100 such practitioners in the country. As an aside, always get a second or even third opinion.
Speaking with survivors of prostate cancer, there are some common threads. It apparently is quite empowering to take charge of your own health and well being focusing on nutrition, exercise, attitude and surrounding yourself with the support of friends and family. The latter concept seems to be much easier for women than it is for us men, but it is an extremely important aspect of heeling. In the new model of prostate cancer, the importance of psychological and emotional stability is becoming more and more apparent. A sense of optimism and hope seems to strengthen the immune system.
You will find that being in charge of your life and your health will become a lynchpin in the overall healing process.
Finally, the happiest cancer patient I know is a friend diagnosed some years ago. He took charge of his life, made the decision to change his lifestyle including a regular regimen of exercise and the incorporation of good nutritional habits. He engaged in a new, exciting personal relationship. He took the tack of active surveillance, which includes the lifestyle changes and regular medical/urological checkups. He is happy, healthy and is living with no symptoms or negative side effects.
Remember that some physicians are now recommending that many forms of prostate cancer be considered a chronic condition rather than having the label of “cancer” applied to the disease. Take charge and may the force be with you!