Young Men & Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is usually thought of as an old man’s disease. However, more and more men are being diagnosed at a younger age (defined here as less than 55 years of age).
 
Why is Prostate Cancer Particularly Important When it comes to Younger Men?
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect Canadian men. With one in eight men being diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime, the threat of prostate cancer for men is far greater than is commonly thought. Even more alarming is that Prostate Cancer is being diagnosed more and more in younger men. If you’re a younger man who’s been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may feel isolated and alone thinking that this is an old man’s disease. Just know that many younger men are also going through prostate cancer, and that you’re not alone.
 
How to Manage Your Feelings When Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer?
While being diagnosed with prostate cancer can be difficult for any man, it may be especially challenging if you’re a younger man. You may feel isolated, thinking that this is an old man’s disease. You may feel like you’re in the prime years of your life with too many people depending on you to be sick. Fear, anxiety, anger, confusion, stress and depression are among the wide range of emotions you may experience. There is no “right way” to feel when diagnosed with prostate cancer but managing those feelings will be important. Below are some tips that may help you get through this difficult time:
 
  • Educate yourself- learn as much as you can about prostate cancer. This will also help you make informed decisions about your treatment plan. Explore the information section of our site. To talk with an information specialist, one-on-one, for free call 1-855-722-4636 or email support@prostatecancer.ca .
  • Talk to your doctor- before your doctor’s appointments, write down all the questions you have and information you’d like. If possible, take someone with you so they can help you record answers. More information about questions to ask your doctor can be found here.
  • Get organized- make a plan with your healthcare team, and support system, for your treatment. Consider how your treatment plan may affect you and your loved ones and what supports you may want or need. By getting organized and creating a plan you may feel less stressed.
  • Keep a routine- try to keep your pre- diagnosis when possible. This may include responsibilities you have as a partner, son, or father.
  • Accept help- accept and ask for help when you need it. Having a support system in place can reduce stress and make this journey easier.
  • Join a support group- support groups can be a source of hope, camaraderie, comfort and knowledge. More information about prostate cancer support groups can be found here.
  • Take a break- make sure you take time out of each day to do something you enjoy.
  • Healthy living- eat a healthy diet, be active, avoid smoking, and try meditating to keep your mind and body strong.
 
How Prostate Cancer Affects Your Life as a Young Man
Prostate cancer may affect many different parts of your life. Below are some ways prostate cancer may affect you and what you can do manage these changes.
 
Relationship Changes with Partner
Prostate cancer is often referred to as “couple’s cancer” because it affects not only the man but also their partner. Family dynamics and role changes may occur. Talk to your partner about these changes and how you two can manage them together.
 
Remember, allowing others to assist you, not only helps you, but can help those who care about you feel needed. It’s a good idea to have more than one person to support you though this journey. The support can come from a partner, friend, family member or even colleague. Accept and ask for help when you need it. Start by writing down all the things you do each day, how long each task takes and who might be the best person to assist with it. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do during your cancer journey. Asking and accepting help is a sign of strength and can alleviate stress.  
 
Sexual Relationships
Many prostate cancer treatments can affect libido, body image, ability to have an erection and to father children. The good news is that many of these side effects can be managed through different treatments. Some suggestions for managing sexual changes include:
  • Talk to your healthcare team if you’re experiencing any sexual side effects. They can suggest treatment options.
  • Discuss any changes and or concerns, with your current or future partner, and work together to figure out how these issues can be resolved and  what you can do to maintain intimacy. 
  • Be open, realistic and honest while you manage expectations and explore different methods of maintaining intimacy.
  • Don’t give up. Some treatments can take a long time but with patience and persistence your sex life can be fulfilling. If one method doesn’t work for you, try a different one.
 
Fathering Children
As a younger man, having children may be important to you. Some prostate cancer treatments can affect your ability to have children. If infertility may be a side effect of your treatment, talk to your doctor about sperm banking (having some of your sperm stored in a clinic) before you begin prostate cancer treatments.
 
Work and Finances
As a younger man, you may be in the prime years of your career. Prostate cancer can affect your job and earnings. This can be a major source of stress for men who have a mortgage, dependent children, or other financial commitments.
 
Talk to the human resource staff at your place of employment about about employment standards in your province or territory and about your medical benefits at your company. Ask what resources are available to you, such as counselling through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  
 
If you’re thinking about returning to work after completing your treatment, this may be a big positive step in your life. While you might look forward to re-establishing your usual routine, it’s also understandable if you feel anxious or worried. Keep in mind having a return-to-work plan can help make the transition easier. More information about returning to work can be found here.
 
 
Questions about your prostate cancer diagnosis, treatment or coping with prostate cancer? Talk with an information specialist, one-on-one, confidentially, for free. Call 1-855-PCC-INFO (1-855-722-4636) or email support@prostatecancer.ca
 
For more information, hear from experts in the field of prostate cancer in our Expert Angle Webinars. Tune in to upcoming live presentations or listen to past webinars.




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