Receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event for a patient. As the study “Prostate Cancer – Living not just surviving”  highlights, it is often difficult for men to talk to their partners about their diagnosis and to also share their concerns about the side effects of the therapy. Only 41 percent of the German patients surveyed in the study said they were willing to talk to their partners about potential problems with impotence after treatment. By contrast, 56 percent of partners want to be open to talk about this issue. Although prostate cancer patients find it difficult to discuss their problems with their partners or doctor, communicating about the disease with their partner helps to stabilize the relationship and supports the patient through an emotional time.
Studies have shown that cancer patients tend to downplay the physical and psychological issues associated with their disease. Family support is very important for patients with prostate cancer. Healthcare professionals often involve a patient’s close relatives when discussing the patient’s condition and the progression of the disease. Family members play an important supportive role, especially when it comes to finding out information about treatment options and in deciding whether or not a patient undergoes treatment. If a patient does decide to seek treatment, family member are also involved in the research and selection of the type of treatment.
It is often very difficult for patients to involve family members in discussions with the doctor and in managing their therapy. According to this study, this is because they do not wish to burden their family or they feel that, as men, they are expected to stay strong and deal with their problems themselves. As a result, the Swedish guidelines for treating prostate cancer patients recommend that doctors encourage patients to invite family members to attend their medical appointments, as this can have a significant positive impact on patients’ well-being. It would certainly make sense to take this approach in Germany as well.
Source: Prostate Cancer: Living, not Just Surviving Survey. Results of a pan-European survey of prostate cancer patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals. Beerse (Belgium) 2015.