Life after treatment for prostate cancer can require some adjustments and a good deal of patience. Dr. Jerman, what can you tell us about life after treatment?
Well, Dr. Green, it's crucial that patients give themselves time to heal. It's also important that they talk honestly with their partner, and try not to be frustrated with changes in their sex life. Open communication with family and providers is also important.
Patients should try to remain active doing things they enjoy. It's not unusual for some men to feel depressed after treatment, but this usually improves after a few months. If it persists and is troubling, it should be discussed with a provider.
It may be helpful to have short-term and long-term goals, and to work toward them in a step-by-step manner. Relaxation and meditation can be valuable ways of releasing tension and anxiety and giving the body its best chance to recover.
Follow-up care after treatment for prostate cancer is extremely important. Even when the cancer seems to have been completely removed or destroyed, the disease can sometimes return because undetected cancer cells can remain in the body after treatment.
Providers monitor recovery and check for recurrence of cancer. Checkups help ensure that any changes in health are discovered and, if necessary, treated. They often include a physical exam, a PSA test, and a digital rectal exam, or DRE. Although some PSA can remain in the blood for several weeks after surgery, PSA levels should be very low or undetectable within a couple of months after radical prostatectomy.
Men should feel comfortable contacting their provider between visits if they have any other health problems or concerns.