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Newly Diagnosed?

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Living with Prostate Cancer, One Day at a Time

A prostate cancer diagnosis brings life into sharp focus. Yesterday's concerns vanish, and daily responsibilities that you consider essential fade into the background. "Will I live?" How can I get the best medical care?" "What treatment should I choose?" "Will I be able to manage?" These responses emerge as the important questions.

About one in seven Canadian men will eventually develop prostate cancer. There are few personal experiences more frightening than a cancer diagnosis. However, innovative therapies and promising drugs are being developed every day to treat prostate cancer.

Let Helpful People Join You in Your Struggle

Let people know about your diagnosis. How you communicate to others sets the tone for their responses. Letting them know about your medical situation and sharing your fear allow people to reach out and help you. You may be surprised at the outpouring of support from people who were not previously in your daily life.

Many people will extend help and support to you. You will probably start receiving their help soon after your diagnosis. For those newly diagnosed with prostate cancer, being on the receiving end of care and support may be a new experience. You may have to work at allowing yourself to receive from others. In addition, no one person will provide all the help you need. Your spouse may be able to offer assistance in certain areas. But she is also suffering from shock and fear. One friend may offer to research medical treatment, another may provide deep companionship, and third may be source of optimism. Well-meaning friends or relatives who offer help that is not beneficial to you may leave you feeling misunderstood or angry. Individuals in your life will help you in their unique ways. One of your roles in getting well is to receive each person's particular gifts.

Remember That You Are an Individual, Not a Statistic. Statistics refer to survival rates among large groups of people, but you are an individual.

Prostate Cancer: Your Treatment Options (Video)

The Vancouver Island Prostate Cancer Research Foundation has constructed this thorough and informative video to help those dealing with Prostate Cancer. The award winning video has helped many men and families newly diagnosed with Prostate Cancer find the treatment that helps most.

Tips for the Newly Diagnosed
The usual scenario goes something like this

Your wife insists that you get a check up and with what she has read and seen on TV, make sure that prostate test is done. Your family physician doesn't like some of the results from the prostate exam and tests, and refers you to a local urologist.

Take a loved one with you to all appointments with the urologist, radiation oncologist etc. If this is not possible, take a tape recorder and record what is said. You absolutely will not remember.

There are three very important test results you want to know.

What is my PSA reading? and what was my previous PSA reading and when was it. A rapidly rising PSA indicates aggressiveness in the disease.

(It is a very good idea to get a copy of each PSA report. It is usually one page. If perchance your physician moves away or retires, you will have a history for whomever takes over.)

What is my Gleason score? This reading from the biopsy can indicate the aggressiveness of the disease. Ratings will be between 2 and 10.

What is the Stage of the cancer? Staging indicates to the specialist the extent of the tumour and aids greatly in choice of treatment.

By all means attend a support group meeting. It really helps to speak with someone who has been there. You will also find material that may be borrowed or taken that may help you in your treatment decision making.

Two books by Canadian authors are highly recommended:

Prostate Cancer - All you need to know to take an active part in your treatment
S. Larry Goldenberg MD, FRCSC, FACS
Ian M. Thompson MD, FACS

Prostate Cancer - A guide for patients
Dr. Laurence Klotz
Coles Notes medical series.

Check your local library for either or both of these books.

So you've been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The first thing you should know is that many men continue to live long and productive lives after their prostate cancer is diagnosed and treated. If you want proof, come to our support group meeting and meet many of your neighbours who are all survivors of prostate cancer.

When a man learns that he has prostate cancer, he usually has many questions about what prostate cancer is and how the disease can be treated. It is also normal for men with prostate cancer, their families, and other close to them to have fears and concerns. Most men and those who care about them find that their distress eases as they gain an understanding of the disease and their treatment begins. While Prostaid is not a substitution for professional medical advice it is a place where you can go and talk to men who have gone before.

It is not the intention of this website to recreate the wheel and offer pages of information about prostate cancer and treatments. There are literally hundreds of sites already doing that. But here are some basic facts:

What is Cancer?

The human body is made up of billions of cells. Normally, cells function for a while, then die, and are replaced by new cells in an orderly fasion. This results in an appropriate number of cells that are organized by the body to perfom specific functions.

Tumours: Occasionally cells are replaced in an uncontrolled way and are unable to be organized by the body to perform their normal function. As a result there is an abnormal growth of cells that form a tumor. There are two kinds of tumors: malignant tumours (cancerous) and benign tumours (non-cancerous).

Because of their increasing size, benign tumours squeeze surrounding parts of the body and expand into nearby areas. This can cause pain and intefere with normal function, but it is seldom life threatening.

Malignant tumors can cause pain and intefere with normal function, but they can also cause other sytems in the body to act abnormally. Malignant tumours can invade nearby groups of cells or tissues and other parts of the body (e.g. lymph nodes) crowding out and destroying normal cells.

What should I know about prostate cancer?

The prostate, about the size of a golf ball, is one of the male reproductive organs. It adds nutrients and fluid to the sperm. During ejaculation, the prostate secretes fluid that is a part of the semen.

The cause of prostate cancer is unknown. It is known that the growth of cancer cells in the prostate, like that of normal prostate cells, is stimulated by male hormones, especially testosterone.

Compared with other types of cancer, prostate cancer is usually relatively slow growing. A man with prostate cancer may live for many years without ever having the cancer discovered. In fact, many men with prostate cancer will not die from it, but with it. As the cancer gows, it may eventually squeeze the urethra, which is surrounded by the prostate. Then symptoms such as difficulty in urinating may develop. Note, difficulty in urninating can also be caused by other non-cancerous conditions of the prostate.

A primer on the Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)

A DRE is a quick and safe screening technique in which a doctor inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the size and shape of the prostate. The prostate should feel soft, smooth and even. The doctor examines for lumps or hard, irregular areas of the gland that may indicate the presence of prostate cancer. PSA is a substance produced by both normal and cancerous prostate cells. When prostate cancer grows or when other prostate diseases are present, the amount of PSA in the blood often increases.

PSA is generally said to be in the normal range when it is reported to be between 0 and 4 nanograms per milliliter.

A PSA test in itself cannot diagnose prostate cancer. Many doctors now feel that the real value in regular PSA screening is in establishing a base line and monitoring results over time.

The DRE and PSA only indicate that further testing is necessary. If you have abnormal findings in one of these test, your doctor may require that you have a biopsy.

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