Frequently asked questions about Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men so it’s logical to want to find out as much as you can about this disease! We’ve put together a number of frequently asked questions (and answers) about prostate cancer.
Is urinary incontinence a sign of prostate cancer?
True urinary incontinence, where the flow cannot be stopped, is not a clear indication of prostate cancer. Other urinary symptoms such as hesitancy or a weak or interrupted flow might be but could also indicate an enlarged prostate. This could be a result of prostate cancer but is often a benign enlargement. As the prostate is located around the urethra, it can come under pressure if the size of the prostate increases. Incidentally, a urinary tract infection may also cause problems with urination. If you have any problems urinating, it is important to find out the cause.
Do you become incontinent after treatment for prostate cancer?
If the prostate is treated with radiotherapy or surgically removed, urinary incontinence may develop. Sometimes it’s temporary, sometimes permanent. The extent to which the symptoms occur vary from person to person, and also by the nature of the treatment – some treatments have far less impact than others. Your doctor will be able to offer you further advice.
What are the effects of prostate cancer treatment for your sex life?
Surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy can damage the nerves and blood vessels around the prostate. You may experience erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems, such as:
-A painful or different orgasm
-Involuntary loss of urine during sex
-Decreased amount of semen (dry orgasm)
-Low Sex Drive
-Symptoms vary by situation
-The impact of treatment depends on other things on the type of surgery, and the location and size of a tumour
-Sometimes the symptoms are persistent, sometimes they lessen over time
-There are medicines available for erectile dysfunction, so that sex is often possible in many cases
Side effects vary depending on what specific treatment they are receiving.
Is prostate cancer hereditary?
Heredity certainly plays a role in determining how likely you are to get this form of cancer. In some families, the disease is more common. In five to ten percent of cases, there is a genetic predisposition. If multiple men in your family have had prostate cancer, genetic testing is offered. This research is used to find out if you have an increased predisposition to prostate cancer. Each year, the level of PSA in your blood is checked. PSA is a protein that is only produced by the prostate so the test gives a good indication of the development of this type of cancer. Through regular monitoring, any prostate cancer can be quickly discovered and treated. The chance of cure is then greater.
Is prostate cancer preventable?
At the moment it is not entirely clear what causes prostate cancer so it is also unknown whether and how to prevent the disease. American research indicates that regular ejaculations reduce the risk, supposedly because all sorts of waste products are released with the sperm so that cancer is less likely to develop in the prostate. However, urologist Gert Dohle (Erasmus MC) does not think that “flushing the pipes” really helps and the research used in the cohort study had its limitations.
What is known is that a healthy lifestyle can help to prevent various types of cancer.
Healthy eating, plenty of exercises and not smoking or drinking!
How can I get support?
Many prostate cancer patients feel the need to connect with peers so they can talk about their experiences and emotions, or exchange practical tips. You could join online chat groups, such as Prostate Cancer UK or Macmillan Cancer Support. If you prefer personal contact, consult your doctor or specialist who can probably put you in touch with a support group or peer meeting in your area.
Sources: prostatecancerUK, McMillian