For Family Members Coping with Prostate Cancer

What can you do to help the man in your life with prostate cancer?

The following are some suggestions for helping the men in your life who may have or could have prostate cancer at some point in time:

  • Keep the lines of communication open. It is easy for someone with a diagnosis of prostate cancer to become depressed, or to be in a state of denial. It is also normal for you to be sad, angry, or in denial of the diagnosis. Open communication is critical during a stressful time like this. Strengthen your relationship by talking about how you feel.

  • My husband, father, or son will not go to the doctor because he is embarrassed about the types of examinations necessary to check the prostate. Most men are embarrassed at the thought of a digital rectal exam. Because the prostate is an internal organ, it cannot be looked at directly. Prostate problems can affect men of any age and the examination is simple and quick. It is important that men talk with their doctors to learn about the possible benefits and risks of prostate cancer screening. If your loved one chooses to be screened, offer to go with him to the appointment or drive him to the doctor's office.

  • If there is something wrong, prostate cancer is not the only possibility. In fact, there are other types of prostate problems other than cancer, which can mimic the symptoms of prostate cancer. Like prostate cancer, these problems are often readily treatable.

  • Educate yourself. Understanding the diagnosis will help you to be supportive and understand what your loved one is going through.

  • Maintain good medical records. Keep a notebook of all appointments, tests, and visits with health care providers, and obtain copies of test results for your records.

  • Ask questions. A dumb question is only the one not asked. Take notes and put them in your notebook with your medical records. Accompany your partner so that you can both hear what is being said. And, above all, ask questions.

  • Attend a support group together. Meeting others who have already gone through what you are going through is one of the best ways to alleviate feelings of helplessness and isolation.

  • Seek new information. Prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment options are continually changing as new advances and discoveries are being made. Continue to seek new information and keep abreast of recent findings and studies that may be beneficial.