Psychosocial Factors

What is a psychosocial factor?

Psychosocial factors are those factors that affect a person psychologically or socially.

What are the psychosocial factors associated with prostate cancer?

Every person is different, and not all men have the same experience, thoughts, or feelings. However, some common feelings and concerns may be present when a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, including the following:

  • Threatened masculinity. The prostate gland is critical to a man's sexual function; the possibility and actual diagnosis of prostate cancer can instill fear and anxiety for patients since it threatens their masculinity. They fear they will never be a "real man" again in terms of sexual performance. Rather than adopting a course of action in response to these fears, consider educating yourself so that you can make the best health decisions possible. Treatment considerations vary, as do their effects on sexual function. It is normal to be scared, angry, or depressed when given this diagnosis. The good news is that prostate cancer is very treatable.

  • Feeling embarrassed or avoiding discussions about the diagnosis. Patients, together with their partner or family, should try their best to communicate about the diagnosis of prostate cancer, how it makes them feel, what their expectations are, what their fears are, etc. Prostate cancer affects not only the patient, but also those closest to him. Arm yourself and those around you with information and take the time to learn about your cancer diagnosis, the risks and benefits of various therapies, and the impact they may have on your life. Take the time for you and those you love to become informed.

  • Not being honest with yourself and/or your doctor. Sometimes, men are embarrassed or feel guilty for ignoring possible signs of prostate cancer, or avoiding visits with their doctor due to the nature of a prostate examination. Other times, men avoid going back to see their doctor once the diagnosis of prostate cancer is made, choosing instead to treat themselves with alternative medicines, or simply deny the diagnosis of cancer altogether. It is your responsibility to be honest with yourself and your health care provider, in order to form a partnership with your doctor that is based on candid, honest dialogue, to ensure the best care possible. It is normal to consider a second opinion and investigate all of the care options available to you, until you have made the best choice for yourself. Be assured that doctors understand getting a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis, or to provide a different perspective on treatment options. Above all, become an advocate for your personal health care.

  • Being afraid to ask for help. It is normal to feel helpless, alone, or isolated when you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Consider going to a support group. You will find numerous other men who understand your situation because they have "been there" themselves. Bring your partner or a friend as a support person, if you choose. You will be amazed at how much information you can gain from those who have been there and by the amount of stress eliminated in the knowledge that others truly do understand. Ask your doctor where the prostate cancer support groups are in your area.