Prostate cancer treatment can cause you to experience a number of potential side effects, from fatigue and nausea to urinary dysfunction and infertility. Most of these side effects will go away after treatment, although some are permanent. That said, there are different ways to manage these side effects. A supportive care specialist can help you find ways to stay as comfortable as possible throughout the process.
How to cope with digestive issues
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can both cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. There are several medications, however, that can prevent and alleviate these digestive concerns. Additionally, making certain dietary changes (e.g., eating small portions of low-fat, low-fiber, high-calorie foods) can help ensure that you get the nutrients you need when dealing with digestive issues.
How to manage fatigue
Many men feel exceptionally tired and forgetful during prostate cancer treatment. It’s important to give yourself plenty of time to rest, but it can also be helpful to stay as active as possible. A counselor or social worker can provide you with tips for dealing with mental exhaustion and depression, which can compound the effects of physical fatigue if left unaddressed.
How to manage urinary and bowel dysfunction
It’s common to experience urinary dysfunction, bowel dysfunction or both after receiving radiation therapy to the prostate gland. Medication is usually the first treatment recommended for these issues, although there are also injections and surgical procedures that can be used to address these side effects should they persist.
How to handle sexual and reproductive side effects
Some men experience erectile dysfunction after prostate cancer treatment. Depending on your specific needs, a combination of medications, mechanical devices or surgical procedures may be used to help you get and maintain erections if treatment has interfered with your sexual function.
While many men are able to have active and enjoyable sex lives after prostate cancer treatment, it can be difficult to father children through intercourse. As a result, some men choose to bank their sperm so that it can be used for artificial insemination in the future. Other men have their sperm harvested from their testicles so that it can be injected into an egg and potentially form an embryo.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we understand that there are many things to think about when undergoing prostate cancer treatment. Our oncologists and supportive care providers can help you determine which options are most appropriate for your unique needs, and no referral is required to make an appointment. If you’d like to request a consultation with an oncologist from our Genitourinary Oncology Program, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.