Prostate Cancer: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A normal and an enlarged prostate

The prostate gland is a small, walnut-shaped organ that lies just below a man's bladder. It surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body through the penis. Prostate cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in the prostate gland. Prostate cancer cells can spread within the prostate, to nearby lymph nodes and other tissues, and to other parts of the body.

When the cancer hasn't spread outside the prostate, it is called localized prostate cancer. With localized prostate cancer, your options depend on how likely it is that your cancer will grow. Test results will show if your cancer is likely to grow.

  • Low-risk cancer isn't likely to grow right away. If your cancer is low-risk, you can choose active surveillance. This means your cancer will be watched closely by your doctor with regular checkups and tests to see if the cancer grows. This choice allows you to delay having surgery or radiation, often for many years. If the cancer grows very slowly, you may never need treatment.
  • Medium-risk cancer is more likely to grow. Some men with this type of cancer may be able to choose active surveillance. Others may need to choose surgery or radiation.
  • High-risk cancer is most likely to grow. If you have high-risk cancer, you will likely need to choose surgery or radiation.

If your cancer has already spread outside the prostate or to other parts of the body, then you may have other treatments, like chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

If you are over age 80 or have other serious health problems, like heart disease, you may choose not to have treatments to cure your cancer. Instead, you can just have treatments to manage your symptoms. This is called watchful waiting.

Finding out that you have cancer is scary. You may feel many emotions and may need some help coping. Seek out family, friends, and counsellors for support. You also can do things at home to make yourself feel better while you go through treatment. Call the Canadian Cancer Society (1-888-939-3333) or visit its website at www.cancer.ca for more information.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Your doctor will talk to you about your treatment options. You may need to learn more about each of them before you can decide which treatment is best for you.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Eat healthy food. If you do not feel like eating, try to eat food that has protein and extra calories to keep up your strength and prevent weight loss. Drink liquid meal replacements for extra calories and protein. Try to eat your main meal early.
  • Take steps to control your stress and workload. Learn relaxation techniques.
    • Share your feelings. Stress and tension affect our emotions. By expressing your feelings to others, you may be able to understand and cope with them.
    • Consider joining a support group. Talking about a problem with your spouse, a good friend, or other people with similar problems is a good way to reduce tension and stress.
    • Express yourself through art. Try writing, crafts, dance, or art to relieve stress. Some dance, writing, or art groups may be available just for people who have cancer.
    • Be kind to your body and mind. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and taking time to do things you enjoy can contribute to an overall feeling of balance in your life and can help reduce stress.
    • Get help if you need it. Discuss your concerns with your doctor or counsellor.
  • Get some physical activity every day, but do not get too tired. Keep doing the hobbies you enjoy as your energy allows.
  • If you are vomiting or have diarrhea:
    • Drink plenty of fluids (enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water) to prevent dehydration. Choose water and other caffeine-free clear liquids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
    • When you are able to eat, try clear soups, mild foods, and liquids until all symptoms are gone for 12 to 48 hours. Jell-O, dry toast, crackers, and cooked cereal are also good choices.
  • If you have not already done so, prepare an advance care plan. An advance care plan provides instructions to your doctor and family members about what kind of care you want if you become unable to speak or express yourself.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You cannot urinate.
  • You have symptoms of a urinary infection. For example:
    • You have blood or pus in your urine.
    • You have pain in your back just below your rib cage. This is called flank pain.
    • You have a fever, chills, or body aches.
    • It hurts to urinate.
    • You have groin or belly pain.
  • You have pain in your back or hips.
  • Your pain is not controlled.
  • You are vomiting or nauseated.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have pain when you ejaculate.
  • You have trouble starting or controlling your urine.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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