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Prostate Cancer: Coping with Your Diagnosis

A diagnosis of prostate cancer can affect you in many ways. It’s normal to be scared, angry, or depressed after diagnosis. But, know that prostate cancer is very treatable.

Each person copes with a prostate cancer diagnosis in their own way. But there are some common feelings and concerns that many people may have after diagnosis. You may have some of these feelings, too.

Not wanting to talk about it

You may not feel comfortable talking about your diagnosis. But it’s important to realize that it also affects those around you. Talking about it with your partner and family will help you and your loved ones learn to cope with it. Talk with them about what your healthcare provider tells you, how it makes you feel, and what your concerns are. Together you can learn about your cancer diagnosis, the risks and benefits of each treatment option, and how cancer and cancer treatment may affect your life.

Not being honest with your healthcare provider

Some people are embarrassed or feel guilty for ignoring signs of prostate cancer. Or they may feel guilty about not seeing their healthcare provider because they didn’t want to have a prostate exam done. Some people don’t go back to see their healthcare provider even after prostate cancer is diagnosed. They choose instead to treat themselves with alternative medicine or just ignore the diagnosis.

Be honest with yourself and your healthcare provider. Form a partnership. Learn as much as you can about the cancer and what your treatment options are. Talk about the side effects of each option and how they could affect you during and long after treatment. You may also want to get a second opinion to better research all the treatment options that may be right for you. Healthcare providers know that it’s normal to get a second opinion to confirm a diagnosis or to talk about treatment options. Your healthcare providers can help you do this.

Feeling a threat to your sexuality

The prostate gland is part of a person's sexual function. Prostate cancer and its treatment can impact your sex life and your ability to have children. It can also cause problems controlling your urine (incontinence). The serious, life-changing impact that prostate cancer can sometimes have can cause both physical and emotional problems.

Many people worry about sexual performance. They worry about needing to wear diapers. They fear treatment will make them less of a person. It’s good to keep in mind that the effect on sexual function and urine continence varies. Treatment options make a difference. You can help ease your fears by talking with your healthcare provider about ways to minimize changes to the way your body works after treatment.

Being afraid to ask for help

It’s normal to feel scared, helpless, or alone when you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer. But you’re far from alone. Consider going to a support group. It can help to meet and talk with others who have been in the same situation. You may also want to bring your partner or a friend as a support person. You may be amazed at how much talking with others who understand your concerns can lower your stress. Ask your healthcare provider where the prostate cancer support groups are in your area.

Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals RN BSN MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Ronald Karlin MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Todd Gersten MD
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2023
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