When you finish treatment for prostate cancer, you're likely to feel excited, but you also may be nervous or stressed about the possibility of the cancer returning.
The best things to do are:
- Learn about prostate cancer and its side effects
- Have regular checkups
- Maintain a healthful lifestyle and weight
- Continue to speak frankly with your health care provider about any problems or questions
This section includes information on:
- Side effects of treatment
- Active surveillance or watchful waiting
If you have prostate cancer, you will need to have examinations and PSA tests for the rest of your life to see if the cancer has returned. However, the longer the period of time after your treatment, the lower the chance the cancer will return.
For the first five years after treatment, you probably will need to visit the doctor every six months.
After treatment for prostate cancer, you may have some side effects. The most common are:
- Stress urinary incontinence (leakage of urine with cough, sneeze, sudden movement)
- Lymphedema (pain and swelling where lymph nodes were removed)
Treatments for side effects may include:
- Pain medication
- Bisphosphonates: drugs to help relieve bone pain
- Radiopharmaceutics: injections of radioactive drugs
- Kegel exercises to strengthen bladder muscles
- Physical therapy
Talk to your health care provider about any side effects you have. Treatments are available to help with most of them.
Some men, especially if they are older than 70 or have other health problems, choose to treat cancer as a chronic disease. Active surveillance, also called watchful waiting, also involves close follow-up to be sure the cancer is not spreading or becoming more aggressive.
Some men with low-volume, low-grade cancer—regardless of age—may choose active surveillance and be treated only if follow-up testing results show a change in the cancer.
Living a healthier lifestyle will help you feel better and may even help keep the cancer from spreading or coming back.
- Eat a healthful diet with at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day
- Limit red meat and processed meats
- Exercise regularly
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Don't smoke
Impotence, or not being able to maintain an erection to have sex, may be a problem after prostate cancer treatment. This may be temporary or permanent.
If you are able to get an erection, you may be able to achieve orgasm. However, no semen will be ejaculated during orgasm. Some people call this dry orgasm.
Talk to your health care provider about erection problems. Treatments include pills (such as Viagra®, Levitra® or Cialis®), vacuum erection devices and medications given by injections (shots).
Surgery to treat prostate cancer usually requires cutting the tubes between the testicles and urethra that help make semen. This makes it impossible to father children without highly sophisticated sperm retrieval and in-vitro fertilization procedures.
If desire for fertility is even a remote possibility, it is much preferred to bank sperm before cancer treatment. Speak to your doctor if you want more information or have questions.
Last reviewed on 5/27/10
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