Psychological and Emotional Issues in Prostate Cancer Patients

Psychological and Emotional Issues in Prostate Cancer Patients
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

According to Dane E. Klett from the Creighton University School of Medicine, prostate cancer is unique among the cancers affecting men and is worthy of independent discussion. This is because prostate cancer survivors experience a jolt to their manhood which can make their already difficult situation even worse. Prostate cancer is among the most common cancers diagnosed in men and is the third leading cause of all male cancer deaths. Furthermore, prostate cancer causes a wide range of psychological and emotional issues for men as well as their spouses. These issues range from anxiety, depression, intimacy issue, and sexual dysfunction. These psychological and emotional problems arise as a result of the difficulty dealing with the diagnosis, and the impact this cancer has on the life of Prostate Cancer Patients. In this article, we will explain more about the emotional and psychological impact prostate cancer has on men and their families.

Prostate cancer problems can modify a person’s overall quality of life, so the most important thing is to face the diagnosis and seek out the best treatment measures. It is equally essential to recognize the early prostate cancer symptoms in men, so that you are guaranteed the best possible outcome.

Psychological Issues with Prostate Cancer

Psychological Issues with Prostate Cancer

Around 30 to 50% of men with prostate cancer problems experience psychological issues due to their diagnosis at all stages of their cancer. Patients will first experience psychological problems even before their diagnosis is made while they’re waiting for the results of the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test. Anxiety happens as a result of apprehension and fear of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Anxiety is even greater in men who have relatives who had this type of cancer. It is interesting to note that anxiety reduced* in men who later found out they had cancer because the anticipation came to an end. Nevertheless, a lot of men experience depression as a result of their cancer once treatment begins. Men who are at highest risk of developing depression as a result of prostate cancer are those who are younger than 65 years of age, who are in the advanced stages of cancer and experience pain, who experience side effects of their treatment, and men who have a history of clinical depression.

Emotional Issues with Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a difficult diagnosis and requires men to make important decisions regarding their treatment. Men have the options to go through hormonal therapy, radio-therapy, and removal of the prostate gland; all these treatments carry certain risks with them. Hormonal therapy tends to have the most side effects like weight gain, loss of muscle and bone mass, and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. This type of therapy also happens to cause most of the emotional issues. Furthermore, prostate cancer can be emotionally challenging to deal with and may strain men’s intimate and social relationships. Sexual dysfunction which is one of the prostate cancer symptoms in men, frequently happens as a result of prostate cancer treatments causes men to withdraw from initiating intimacy with their partners. This, of course, puts a strain on relationships that could otherwise help men cope with their situation. Also, poor coping mechanisms like avoidance, wistful-thinking, and guilt and shame put further strain on the man’s emotional well-being. Men will also withdraw from social relationships due to their cancer and enter early retirement making them feel like they are missing out on life.

Emotional Issues with Prostate Cancer

Addressing Psychological Issues

While it is understandable to feel some distress as a result of having an illness such as prostate cancer, it is also important to not let this distress turn into depression and anxiety. Doctors and nurses should discuss psychological issues with their patients and suggest psychotherapy and consultation to help patients deal with the diagnosis. Depression can aggravate prostate cancer and have a negative impact on the outcomes. Depression can also worsen the side effects that are a result of prostate cancer treatments. Group therapies are a good way to share one’s experience and struggle with men who are in the same situation. This type of therapy is free and found to be extremely helpful. Psychotherapists could discuss ways to rebuilt intimacy between patient and spouses as it is important to maintain emotional intimacy for better patient outcomes. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help men learn better coping strategies in dealing with their treatment.

Conclusion

Prostate cancer can be particularly distressing for men and their families. This type of cancer is the leading cause of male deaths, and even if cured, decreases* a man’s quality of life. Men often have poor body image as a result of prostate cancer and the shame and guilt of sexual dysfunction strains their marital relationship. This is especially true for younger men who are in their 50s and early 60s. While it is normal to feel distressed in such a situation, maintain a positive outlook and addressing the illness with good coping strategies can help men have a better outcome. This means that their chances of survival increase* and they can maintain a good quality of life. Addressing psychological and emotional issues caused by prostate cancer should be a habit among physicians, nurses, patients, and the patients’ families as well.

As you have seen, a psychotherapist can help Prostate Cancer Patients deal with this hurdle, especially when it comes to psychological and emotional issues. Once again, it is crucial to identify the prostate cancer symptoms in men – after a certain age, the annual screening of the prostate gland becomes a must.

References:

  • http://msrj.chm.msu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Fall-2014-Prostate-Cancer.pdf
  • http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/764044_3

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Author

Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.