“Everything’s fine!”

4 Things Men with Prostate Cancer Don’t like to Talk About (But Definitely Should Anyways)

Next time you consider skipping your yearly physical because you feel healthy, don’t!  Going to the doctor even when you feel healthy is still important. Some issues, such as prostate cancer, are silent.  This means they don’t have symptoms until very late stages.  There are a lot of other silent issues that come with aging that can be prevented. 

Men are notoriously reluctant to visit doctors and even tend to ignore or downplay symptoms of poor health.  This could be due to beliefs that men must be tough and strong, the fear that discussing a diagnosis makes it more real, or a myriad of other reasons.  However, failing to raise these issues may cause men to live with pain or discomfort that can be corrected.  Discomfort and changes in body behavior are an early indication that a more serious underlying health issue exists.  In general, it is easiest to treat problems at their earliest onset, so discussing concerning symptoms with a health professional in a timely fashion is important for overall health. 

Below are some examples of subjects men seem to avoid:    

1. Pain

A study done by Bayer HealthCare in 2015 showed that many men with metastatic prostate cancer ignore symptoms of pain as the disease progresses.  Their poll showed that 7 in 10 men ignored symptoms of progression such as pain, difficulty sleeping, and loss of bladder control.  These symptoms are crucial to discuss with your doctor at their onset, because the earlier cancer progression is detected, the better the outcome with treatment. 

2. Fatigue

Fatigue is an extreme exhaustion that can greatly diminish quality of life.  It can also be a warning of an underlying issue.  This may mean anything from anemia to a vitamin D deficiency.    In addition, some types of prostate cancer treatment cause fatigue.  If you communicate your symptoms of fatigue to your doctor they may be able to alter your treatment regimen to one that lessens the fatigue and improves quality of life.  While it may sound counter-intuitive, weight training is very effective at preventing fatigue.  Devising an exercise plan with your doctor may improve general health and energy. 

3. Mental Health

Receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis can generate an array of negative emotions.  While this is completely natural, men may be wary of admitting they need help.  Sometimes, just voicing what you are feeling will make a big difference.  There are other solutions that range from exercise and diet to therapy and medications that can improve the situation.  

Certain treatments for prostate cancer may also effect emotions.  By paying attention to these changes and talking about them with your doctor, they will be able to help come up with a plan.

4. Sexual Issues

Sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction (ED) are often a taboo topic of discussion.  However, this issue is too important to be overlooked.  ED can be a sign of underlying heart issues and should be taken seriously.  Nowadays, there are many solutions and options for men with ED.  Your doctor can help create a plan which works for you.

Due to the location of the prostate, erectile dysfunction (short or long term) is often a side effect of treatment.  Erectile dysfunction should be considered and understood when choosing a treatment plan.  Failure to discuss this important issue prior to finalizing a treatment plan is a serious mistake.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that doctors talk to patients daily about these subjects, and there is no need to be embarrassed.  A lot of common problems have solutions!  Why suffer in silence?  By opening up to your doctor, you will be able to come up with a plan to help improve symptoms and general health.  Keep in mind that how men react to prostate cancer treatment varies patient to patient.  Being honest with your doctor enables them to tailor treatment to you. 

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