BLOG | 16 OCT 2021
Prostate Cancer Prevalence, Treatment and Effects
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer affecting Australian males and is estimated to be the second most common cancer in Australia in 2020. So many of you reading this may know someone who has had prostate cancer. Individuals with a cancer diagnosis are now living longer due to early diagnosis, advanced treatments and new technologies (yay!). Approximately 95% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are living a minimum of five years. Treatment for localised prostate cancer is a radical prostatectomy which involves removing the prostate and cancerous tissue outside of the prostate. A radical prostatectomy is considered a “gold standard” treatment option for localised prostate cancer which means that it is one of the best treatment options.
It is excellent that treatment is enhancing survival rates however, ongoing support is needed for men following a radical prostatectomy to manage a range of physical and psychological health concerns. Common physical concerns post-surgery includes erectile dysfunction and other changes in sexual functioning as well as bowel and urinary incontinence. The psychological concerns post radical prostatectomy include impaired body image, low self-esteem, impaired feelings of masculinity, decreased sexual confidence, reduced quality of sexual intimacy and an increase in anxiety and depression. Our physical and mental health are connected so if there are changes to our physical health and physical functioning this can result in changes to our mental health and cognitive functioning. Getting extra support during this time may be highly beneficial for your mental health and wellbeing.
A cancer diagnosis and changes in physical and mental health can also impact upon couples. Living through a cancer diagnosis and surgery can change the dynamics in couples. That may be due to one part of the couple taking on a caring role and responsibility. Couples may also find it hard to discuss issues in their relationship. This could be due to couples accepting the difficulties post radical prostatectomy and also due to the couple not knowing how to approach and voice new challenges in their relationship. Engaging in additional support to help with this transition such as couples’ therapy may be highly beneficial.
By Caitlin Pike