|“This is exactly what we struggle with in the prostate cancer world: tons of information and some of it not very accurate.” — Dr. Scholz|
You may think COVID-19 and prostate cancer couldn’t possibly have anything in common. Yet, while the two illnesses are clearly very different, some interesting similarities do exist.
- Fear: Prostate cancer and COVID-19 both generate fear. In the case of the novel coronavirus, there have been reports of people not going to the hospital while experiencing heart attack or stroke because they are in fear of contracting the novel coronavirus. With prostate cancer, the incidence of heart attacks and suicide both increase dramatically the weeks following a diagnosis. Fear also leads men with prostate cancer to seek immediate, aggressive treatment that may be unnecessary.
- Demographics: Older, overweight men are both commonly affected by prostate cancer and COVID-19. Diet and exercise can help men live a healthy lifestyle, maintain or achieve a healthy weight and even counteract some common prostate cancer treatment side effects.
- Language: Prostate cancer and COVID-19 are both umbrella terms that may confuse people into believing these illnesses are just one thing. In fact, these illnesses both encapsulate varying degrees of severity and can manifest differently in each individual. For instance, there are types of prostate cancer (Gleason 6) that don’t ever spread while other types can be life threatening. With COVID-19, some people are asymptomatic and don’t even know they have it, while others die from it. It is important to note that these two illnesses are complex and when we use these singular terminologies we are referring to a wide spectrum of stages and a range of potential outcomes.
- Information Overload: There is a lot of information and news on both of these illnesses and it can be very overwhelming. Discerning which information is true and useful vs which is false and unhelpful can be difficult. Check your sources. Talk to your doctors and support groups. For prostate cancer, start by learning your stage: take the staging quiz at keytopc.com. Look for nonprofits to guide you to correct information.
Connection: Hormone therapy and COVID-19
Recently hormone therapy for prostate cancer has made the news for an interesting connection with COVID-19. Preliminary data shows that men on hormone therapy for prostate cancer were less likely to get COVID-19 and if they do get it, it is less severe. There are no indications or recommendations that anyone should start taking hormone therapy as a prevention for COVID-19. Learn more about the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s Study: https://www.pcf.org/blog/breaking-news-adt-may-offer-some-protection-from-covid-19-in-men-with-prostate-cancer/
The best way to counteract fear is through knowledge. Do your best to learn and understand before jumping to conclusions or letting fear get the best of you! Check your sources and join in the conversation.
While there are interesting similarities, COVID-19 and prostate cancer are very different. Prostate cancer is a chronic, slow growing disease that rarely requires immediate treatment. There is time to research options and seek second opinions before making a treatment decision. COVID-19 is a viral disease that will cause a more immediate type of danger if contracted (and if you are not asymptomatic). Remember to frequently and thoroughly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
Dr. Scholz’s COVID-19 recommendations: https://www.prostateoncology.com/2020/03/13/the-covid-19-coronavirus-a-cold-virus-that-can-turn-into-pneumonia/
Listen to Hormone Therapy TIPs: https://soundcloud.com/prostate-oncology/hormone-therapy-tips
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The purpose of this podcast is to educate and inform. The information presented on this podcast and corresponding blog posted on prostateoncology.com/blog should not be used in place of a physician consult. Guests on the podcasts present their own opinions and conclusions, these views do not necessarily represent that of Prostate Oncology Specialists.