Hearing the word cancer is usually a shock. Men often say that after that word was mentioned, they felt in a daze: ‘Didn’t hear anything the doctor said’. A man’s response to a diagnosis of cancer may be shaped by the experience of a father, uncle or friend who was diagnosed some time ago, before current improvements in knowledge and treatment. It is good to remember that our success with treating cancers, including prostate cancer, has steadily improved over time. Nevertheless, there is a lot to take in.
The following suggestions may be helpful at this stage:
- Take your time. Prostate cancer is normally slow growing. Most men have time to talk to others and think things through before making a decision.
- Talk to your GP, who may answer some of your questions and may be helpful in clarifying information about the disease and treatments.
- Make a second appointment with your urologist – write a few questions down before the appointment as a reminder, or have someone come with you.
- A second opinion can be arranged through your GP or specialist. Men with localised cancer are often encouraged to talk to a second urologist (surgeon) or a radiation oncologist (a doctor who specialises in radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer).
- Talking to other men with prostate cancer can be helpful in learning about the experience of treatment and life after diagnosis. This can be arranged through the Cancer Council Helpline or a support group (see Resources).
- Partners of men with prostate cancer also feel shock and distress at a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Men and women look for support in different ways, and often have different concerns.