Thanks to advances in care and treatment options, many men survive their prostate cancer diagnosis. Treatments like HIFU can remove or destroy the cancer entirely, offering you a new lease on life. But even after your screenings come back clear, you might still live with a sense of worry about the cancer returning.
Life after completing your prostate cancer treatments can be complicated, and having a little guidance helps you to move forward. At HIFU, we believe in supporting men before, during, and after their prostate cancer treatments. Here are some things to keep in mind as you move forward.
Thoughts and Feelings You Might Experience
Ask most men how they feel after their last prostate cancer treatment, and most will tell you they feel relieved. After all, with the conclusion of the treatment comes a chance to get back to living a more comfortable life. But not everyone shares this feeling. Life after cancer can be challenging to adjust to and takes time.
You might experience a whole range of emotions and feelings after your treatment concludes. For many, the worry of the cancer returning keeps them from celebrating their successes. This worry is to be expected and will go away with time as you work with your doctor and follow your post-treatment care plans. In many cases, speaking with a close friend, family member, or mental health professional about these concerns can help ease your mind.
Others feel isolated after completing their treatments. During the treatment process, you might work frequently with your doctor or nurse and other care providers. The presence of these professionals is a source of comfort for many men, and to see them less frequently can be difficult. If you’re feeling isolated or abandoned, it’s a good idea to meet with a counselor who can help you process these feelings, and, to a certain degree, help create that support network for you.
Depression and anxiety are common reactions both before and after prostate cancer treatments. A cancer diagnosis is a major life change, and many men might feel a sense of hopelessness. Their worries about the cancer and the treatment plan lead many to feel worried about the process and results. These feelings can interrupt your daily life and keep you from doing the things you love, or that keep you healthy. Talking about these feelings with friends or counselors, plus eating healthy and exercising regularly can help you process and manage these emotional responses.
Developing a Survivorship Care Plan
While your treatments might be over, that doesn’t mean that your relationship with your doctor is. You’ll want to meet with your primary care physician to develop a survivorship care plan. This serves as a long-term strategy to ensure your continued health and outlines the next steps in your recovery journey. Your treatment plan should be multifaceted and include all of the information pertinent to your cancer and your treatment experience. Your plan should include things like:
A schedule of follow-up exams, appointments, and tests.
A list of other tests you’ll need in the future, like early detection screenings, and long-term health tests.
A summary of the treatment you underwent.
Any possible side effects you might experience from your treatment, both long-term and short-term.
Strategies you can follow to maintain and improve your health, lowering your chances of the cancer returning.
Your survivorship care plan should be viewed as a living document, one that changes in response to new developments in your health and your changing needs.
Prepare for Side-Effects
Depending on which form of prostate cancer you used, you might experience both long-term and short-term side-effects. Your doctor should be able to walk you through many of these side-effects, but being prepared for them can lessen their impact on your day-to-day life.
Some men experience some level of fatigue after their cancer treatments, especially those who received chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Others experience difficulties with urination. After a surgery you may struggle to hold urine or notice some urine leakage. Radiotherapy treatments can leave some feeling like they need to urinate more frequently and more urgently. That’s because the radiotherapy has irritated the lining of the bladder.
Some men experience a degree of interruption in their sexual health and performance. Erectile dysfunction can be a problem for several months to several years after a cancer treatment. Some surgeries target both the prostate and nearby glands, which are responsible for producing semen. This may mean that you experience dry ejaculations and are no longer fertile.
Make Appropriate Lifestyle Changes
Whether you’re worried about your cancer returning, or if you’re looking at this as an opportunity, completing your cancer treatments is a great chance to make lasting lifestyle changes. Regular exercise not only boosts your overall health but can lower the chances of the return of cancer. Quitting smoking is a great idea for a lot of reasons, but for those who quit for at least 10 years see a reduced risk for prostate cancer death.
Recognize that the Cancer May Return
In an estimated 20 to 30 percent of men, their prostate cancer returns even after treatment. This recurrent cancer is found during follow-up visits with their doctor. It’s also important to remember that men who have prostate cancer may be at greater risk of developing other forms of cancer as well.
HIFU Offers a New Way to Treat Your Prostate Cancer
Traditional forms of treating prostate cancer involve painful surgeries, costly chemotherapy, and other processes that can impact your quality of living. HIFU is a non-invasive, radiation-free treatment for prostate cancer. Utilizing high-intensity focused ultrasound, HIFU targets harmful tissues and carefully destroys it. You can find HIFU treatment centers throughout the United States. Find a provider near you today!