Prostate Cancer Prognosis
Lifestyle Changes in Prostate Cancer Patients & Ways of Circumvention
As soon as a patient is confirmed with the diagnosis of prostate cancer he falls into a system of shock, defiance, confusion, panic, sadness and finally depression. But what is perhaps more important is to quickly take stock of the situation, plan a road-map for treatment, getting aware with the impending changes in lifestyle and logistically preparing to face up to the challenges.
Treatment options: New England Journal of Medicine recently conducted a survey among urologists on the treatment strategy they would adopt to treat a hypothetical 63 year old prostate cancer patient (with low grade cancer and a rising serum PSA level). Of the 3,720 respondents, there was no unanimous agreement on the treatment strategy. Given that each treatment option comes with its own set of shortcomings and the absence of general consensus among physicians, it is imperative for the patient to make an educated choice. It is of prime importance to ask for a second opinion from an urologist, radiation oncologist and a medical oncologist before embarking on a treatment regimen and the good thing is most insurance companies will allow it if the request comes at the behest of the primary physician.
Another useful need is to take an objective decision (where the priorities are set with absolute rationale) rather one driven my short term gains. Important consideration for the patient will be to decide whether to go for surgery (potential risk of sexual and urinary problems), hormone therapy (that might reduce sex drive). Under no circumstances a wait and watch policy is the wise way.
Nutrition and Physical Activity: Adequate amount of calories and protein content in daily diet is necessary to maintain good weight and body strength, respectively. Also eating acts as an anti-depressant and therefore might help in some ways in treading over the tougher days during treatment. It is critical to maintain an adequate level of vitamin D in the diet as this vitamin has been shown to potentiate survivability by slowing down cancer progression.
Research also shows that a Mediterranean diet rich in fish, olive oil and vegetables is helpful in regressing cancer growth. Additionally, selenium, lycopene (the active content in tomatoes), omega 3 fatty acids and green tea polyphenol have shown promising results. On the other hand, animal fat should be avoided. Exhaustive research has shown that cancer patients feel better overall when they are physically active. Physical activities like swimming, brisk walking, yoga can increase body energy levels as well as physically prepare the body well for the impending treatment. It is very important to consult the doctor before any physical exercise and any degradation in health should be immediately reported to the physician.
Managing Stress: Stress can stem from the persistent uncertainty about the outcome of the treatment, family concerns and financial concerns. Stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine help prostate-cancer cells grow and impair the immune system and thus adds to the disease. Keeping a positive attitude, being assertive instead of being aggressive, learning to relax, resting and sleeping well, and accepting that there are events which cannot be controlled will go a long way in alleviating stress. Resort to alcohol to reduce stress is absolutely not recommended because it will add to the stress levels. The following steps will help controlling and avoiding stress:
(i) Opening up to others will help to be more receptive of love and support offered by the family members.
(ii) Cancer groups can also be a good source of support, having like minded people talking about common problems will help take a global outlook on how a problem should be tackled.
(iii) Tone down expectations as this will help you attaining set goals and this will come with a sense of accomplishment. This in turn will help reduce stress as personal achievements give a sense of fulfillment.
(iv) Deep breathing exercises and meditation will help reduce stress.
(v) Pursuing your hobby will help as it will act as a distraction to fatigue and stress.
Individual counseling: Counseling session will help decide strategies suited to an individual's need and help regain sense of control and improve lifestyle. Also, a sex counselor can be used to alleviate concerns of the patient or the partner about their sexual relationship. It will help both the partners to discuss the outcome of treatment on their personal life.
Financial counselors and miscellaneous considerations: Regular interaction with insurance companies is required to keep control of healthcare expenses. Consultation with financial counselors, available through hospitals, is a big help. Additional consultations with attorneys regarding advance directives can also be available through the hospitals.