What To Expect After Surviving Prostate Cancer
If you’ve had cancer, hearing that you are finished with treatment may be an overwhelmingly joyful moment. However, after the initial joy wears off, you may begin to wonder what you should do next
Keep up with your doctor’s suggested follow-up care.
General follow-up care will most likely include:
- Doctor Visits - After completing prostate cancer treatment, your urologist will still want to keep a close eye on you. Sometimes, the side effects of your cancer and treatments can go on longer than the treatment or even show up after your treatment has ended. Therefore, during follow-up visits, you should be sure to talk to your doctor about any new symptoms, problems, or changes you may be having. Being open with your doctor about these things can help them decide which tests to include in your follow-up care.
- Tests - Staying up to date with the tests your doctor suggests can help identify returning cancer or other long-term problems you may encounter. A couple of months after your treatment has ended, your doctor will likely suggest getting regular PSA blood tests and digital rectal exams (DREs).
Depending on the stage of your cancer and the chances it can come back, your doctor may recommend getting the PSA blood tests and DREs every six months for the first five years after your treatment has ended. After that, you may need to get the tests once a year. Your doctor may also suggest other imaging tests, such as a bone scan.
Keeping up with these tests and doctor visits is crucial because prostate cancer can come back, and catching it early gives you the best chance to survive it again.
Work with your doctor to create a survivorship care plan.
Discussing a survivorship care plan with your doctor can help outline the best steps to take after your treatment has ended. Your plan may include:
- Suggested follow-up exams and tests to schedule
- Summary of treatment already received
- An early detection screening and long-term health effects testing schedule
- A list of late or long-term side effects to look out for
- Suggestions to improve your health and to lower the chances of your cancer returning
How to Avoid Prostate Cancer
Reduce the risk of your cancer returning or progressing.
If you have suffered or are currently suffering from prostate cancer, keeping it from returning or progressing is probably on the top of your mind. Some things that you can do to reduce the risk of your prostate cancer from recurring or progressing include:
- Exercise - research has shown that people who exercise regularly may be less likely to die from their prostate cancer.
- Stay at a healthy weight - If you are overweight when diagnosed, some research shows that you are at a higher risk. However, more research is needed to clarify if losing weight can reduce your risk of dying from prostate cancer.
- Quit smoking - studies have shown that smokers have a higher recurrence of prostate cancer.
- Start eating a healthier diet - eating a vegetable-rich diet low in animal fats may be helpful. Taking supplements may also be beneficial but talk to your doctor before starting any.
What if the cancer comes back?
If your cancer comes back, hopefully, your survivorship care plan allowed you to catch it early on. Your treatment for the returning cancer will depend on where it is located and the treatment you have had in the past.
Has your prostate cancer treatment affected your sexuality?
Often, prostate cancer treatments can impact sexual ability. At Dr. Paul Kenworthy Urology, we offer a wide range of ED treatments. We can work with you to determine the best ED treatment for you.