PROSTATE CANCER TREATMENT & RECOVERY ROADMAP
Your medical team will assess a variety of factors in order to give you a recommended treatment approach. If you are unsure of which route to take, consider getting a second opinion. The most common prostate cancer treatment approaches include:
SURGERY PROSTATECTOMY: a radical prostatectomy is an invasive procedure that removes the entire prostate gland plus some of the tissue around it, including the seminal vesicles.
ROBOTIC PROSTATECTOMY: a minimally invasive procedure to remove all or part of the prostate and surrounding tissue, performed with the assistance of advanced surgical technology.
RADIATION THERAPY: also called X-ray therapy involves the use of high-energy beams or radioactive seeds to eliminate tumors. High levels of radiation are used to kill prostate cancer cells or keep them from growing and dividing, while minimizing damage to healthy cells.
HORMONE THERAPY: also called androgen suppression therapy, removes, blocks, or adds hormones to treat prostate cancer. The goal is to reduce levels of male hormones, called androgens, in the body, to stop them from fueling prostate cancer cells.
CHEMOTHERAPY: is the use of any one or combination of cancer-fighting drugs. It is prescribed in cases of recurrent or advanced prostate cancer that has not responded to hormone treatment, but it is not used to treat early stage disease except as part of a clinical trial.
Once a treatment approach has been selected, there are two stages in the process; the Treatment itself, followed by Recovery. Most prostate cancer survivors voice how easy the treatment stage is when compared to the recovery stage. The easiest way to describe the difference is to use an analogy of a 'two stage long-distance auto race'.
The first stage, the Treatment Stage, uses a racing car, driven by a professional driver, who carefully follows a precisely designed, sophisticated protocol and is supported by a highly trained professional team. During this stage you are riding in the back seat.
The second stage, the Recovery Stage, uses a fixer upper car and you are the driver. You have little to no advanced training, a poorly designed roadmap and a support team that will have varying degrees of capability and engagement in aiding the process. Furthermore, you are driving impaired due to the heavy duty medications and range of potential side effects.
The level of trauma, disruption and dysfunction associated with treatment will differ greatly from one patient to the next, as each patient’s body will react and recover in its own unique way. The differences are due to a multitude of factors; type of cancer cells, Gleason scale, extent of surgery or treatment, physical conditioning, the bodies receptivity to healing, nerve regeneration… the list is as varied as each individuals DNA.
While each treatment type is accompanied by its own unique set of issues, there are commonalities that each patient is likely to face during their recovery. These challenges range from stress and anxiety, to managing a catheter, to incontinence and sexual dysfunction.
ESTABLISHING A NEW NORMAL
After prostate cancer treatment, your ‘normal’ daily living activities will be filled with the ‘abnormal’. Leading up to my three month check-up, I prepared a list of what I considered 'abnormal' experiences that worried me. I shared this list with my doctor, expecting some level of concern, however, he waived each item off as if it was to be expected. All of the 'abnormal' I was experiencing was considered totally 'normal and routine' to the medical community.
If, during your recovery, you wonder - are my 'abnormal' experiences similar to those of most prostate treatments patients? - the answer most likely is yes. For a small percentage of prostate cancer patients, certain 'abnormals' may even become their new 'normal' for many months or years to come. Setting realistic expectations with yourself and being patient from the outset of your recovery journey is a must.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION FOUND ON THIS WEBSITE IS NEITHER WRITTEN BY MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS, NOR DOES IT CLAIM TO BE QUALIFIED MEDICAL ADVICE. All content is written by fellow Cancer Patients that have gone through their own cancer recovery process. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.