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(BPT) - “When dealing with my husband Glenn’s cancer, I have learned a few things,” said Penni D., a caregiver and wife of a patient living with advanced prostate cancer. “I enjoy the good days together even more and don’t waste time worrying about the future – we take each day as it comes.”
Like Penni, caregivers for men living with prostate cancer know firsthand the struggles of watching their loved ones battle the disease. Because of their close relationship to patients, caregivers may recognize issues early on, so it can be important to educate themselves about the disease.
Caregivers, who can be life partners, family members or close friends, can help through a wide range of roles – from emotional support to assistance with day-to-day tasks and going with the patient to doctor’s appointments.
Caregiving for men with prostate cancer
While men diagnosed with early prostate cancer often have no symptoms, symptoms can emerge as the disease progresses.1 Because patients do not always recognize or talk about new symptoms, caregivers can bring a different perspective and can make a significant impact by helping to recognize the signs of disease progression as soon as possible.
Several studies have estimated that 10-20 percent of men with prostate cancer may develop castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), or prostate cancer that continues to progress despite treatment, within five years of diagnosis.2,3 Prostate cancer can also become metastatic prostate cancer, cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (such as the bones, lymph nodes, bladder and rectum).4 Metastatic CRPC refers to when the cancer spreads outside the prostate and progresses despite treatment.5
What should you look out for?
A big challenge for caregivers is that men with advanced prostate cancer may not experience symptoms, making it all the more difficult to monitor for progression.3 However, some symptoms to look out for in advanced prostate cancer could include bone pain or urination problems.1
Caregivers should be aware of information about monitoring prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, levels. A rise in PSA levels could be an indication of cancer or other prostate health issues.3 Their doctor may also order additional tests, such as MRI, CT, PET or bone scans, to confirm if the cancer has spread.4
“When Glenn received his diagnosis and was told of his limited options – well, that became a turning point for us,” said Penni. “We were ready to fight his prostate cancer with everything we had. Having a doctor who would fight with us and knew how to guide us throughout this stressful process meant everything to us.”
What can you do to help a loved one after they are diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer?
First and foremost, good communication is an important part of the caregiver’s role. This includes communication with their loved one who has just been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and communication with their doctor (if that is within the caregiver’s role). Patients should be encouraged to take an active role with their doctor in treatment planning.
Because men living with advanced prostate cancer may have different needs, it’s important that caregivers discuss priorities with them, particularly when it comes to a management plan and treatment options. There are important factors to discuss with a physician when choosing a treatment option that works best.
For more information about prostate cancer progression, including a doctor discussion guide, visit KnowYourProstatePlan.com.
Brought to you by Astellas Pharma Inc. and Pfizer Inc.
1 American Cancer Society. Prostate Cancer Overview (02-09-2016).
http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003072-pdf.pdf. Accessed 02-03-2017.
2 Kirby M, Hirst C, Crawford ED. Characterising the castration-resistant prostate cancer population: a systematic review. Int J Clin Pract 2011;65(11):1180-1192.
3 Urology Care Foundation. Advanced Prostate Cancer Patient Guide. www.urologyhealth.org/educational-materials. Accessed 02-16-2017.
4 Cancer.Net. ASCO Answers Prostate Cancer. http://www.cancer.net/sites/cancer.net/files/asco_answers_guide_prostate.pdf. Accessed 02-17-2017.
5 Cancer.Net. Treatment of Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer (09-08-2014). www.cancer.net/research-and-advocacy/asco-care-and-treatment-recommendations-patients/treatment-metastatic-castration-resistant-prostate-cancer. Accessed 02-16-2017.