Learning you have prostate cancer can change your life and the lives of those close to you. These changes can be hard to handle. It is normal for you, your family, and your friends to have many different and sometimes confusing feelings.
You may worry about caring for your family, keeping your job, or continuing daily activities. Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are also common. Doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities. Meeting with a social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful if you want to talk about your feelings or concerns. Often, a social worker can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.
Friends and relatives can be supportive. Support groups also can help. In these groups, patients or their family members meet with other patients or their families to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or online. You may want to talk with a member of your health care team about finding a support group.
You and your partner may be concerned about the effects of prostate cancer on your sexual relationship. You may want to talk with your doctor about possible treatment side effects and whether these are likely to last. Whatever the outlook, you and your partner may find it helps to discuss your concerns. You can find ways to be intimate during and after treatment. For some couples, it helps to talk with a sex counselor.
Information Specialists at 1-800-4-CANCER and at LiveHelp (http://www.cancer.gov/cis) can help you locate programs, services, and publications. Also, you may want to read the NCI fact sheet "National Organizations That Offer Services to People With Cancer and Their Families."
Doctors all over the country are conducting many types of clinical trials (research studies in which people volunteer to take part). They are studying new ways to prevent, detect, and treat prostate cancer.
Clinical trials are designed to answer important questions and to find out whether new approaches are safe and effective. Research already has led to many advances, and researchers continue to search for more effective methods for dealing with prostate cancer.
Men who join clinical trials may be among the first to benefit if a new approach is effective. And even if people in a trial do not benefit directly, they still make an important contribution by helping doctors learn more about prostate cancer and how to control it. Although clinical trials may pose some risks, researchers do all they can to protect their patients.
If you are interested in being part of a clinical trial, talk with your doctor. You may want to read the NCI booklet Taking Part in Cancer Treatment Research Studies. It explains how clinical trials are carried out and explains their possible benefits and risks.
NCI's Web site includes a section on clinical trials at http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials. It has general information about clinical trials as well as detailed information about specific ongoing studies of prostate cancer. Information Specialists at 1-800-4-CANCER or at LiveHelp at http://www.cancer.gov can answer questions and provide information about clinical trials.