“You’re very likely to be cured and you may be monitored to be assured of that.”
Completing cancer treatment can bring on an array of emotions. While you may have a sense of relief and excitement, you may experience other not-so-joyous feelings, such as stress or anxiety. For many patients, it can be hard not to worry about cancer growing or coming back.
“In general in prostate cancer, patients who are treated with surgery or radiation, about one out of three will have a risk that the cancer might recur,” says William K. Oh, MD, chief of hematology and medical oncology at Mount Sinai Health System. “That’s a pretty high number, and there’s a lot of anxiety associated with that possibility.”
That’s why it’s important to discuss and develop a survivorship plan after you’ve completed prostate cancer treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, survivorship care plan may include:
A suggested schedule for follow-up exams and tests
A list of possible side effects you may experience after your treatment, including what to watch for and when you should contact your doctor
And diet, physical activity, and self-care suggestions.
“Survivorship issues are very important for patients with prostate cancer because they live for many years,” says Dr. Oh.
After Prostate Cancer Treatment: Follow-Up Exams and Tests
Patients who were treated for localized prostate cancer (cancer that’s confined to the prostate and has not spread) are often monitored by their doctor with follow-up examinations and tests after treatment. Doctors usually perform a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen in the blood. (Learn more about how different types of prostate cancer are treated.)
“As long as the PSA remains low and the cancer shows no evidence of progressing, you’re very likely to be cured and you may be monitored to be assured of that,” says Dr. Oh. “Over time those visits become less frequent because by the fifth or 10th year, there’s a greater and greater chance, [if] the numbers remain good, that the patient has been cured.”
After Prostate Cancer Treatment: Side Effects
“One of the things you want to be aware of are the side effects of treatments. Sometimes these treatments may affect quality of life,” says Dr. Oh.
Some treatment side effects might last a long time or may not even show up until years after you have finished treatment. Side effects of treatment may include:
Sexuality and body issues
And mental health issues, such as anxiety.
It’s important to discuss any side effects that you may be feeling with your doctor, because there may be something that they can do to help you find relief.
After Prostate Cancer Treatment: Lifestyle
While more research is needed to determine how or if lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer coming back, staying healthy can help you feel your best, mentally and physically. According to the American Cancer Society, this includes:
Getting regular exercise
Getting to and staying at a healthy weight
Eating a diet rich in veggies and low in animal fat
And limiting alcohol to no more than 2 drinks per day.
If the Prostate Cancer Comes Back
“In that setting, the truth is that we have a lot of treatments that we can use to control the cancer,” says Dr. Oh, “sometimes to keep it under control for many years and sometimes even decades.”
Dr. Oh is the chief of hematology and oncology at Mount Sinai Hospital, specializing in the management of prostate, renal, bladder, and testicular cancers. He is also the deputy director of The Tisch Cancer Institute of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
00:00:00,248 --> 00:00:02,753
00:00:02,753 --> 00:00:05,915
After the patient has completed
treatment for his prostate cancer,
00:00:05,915 --> 00:00:07,220
they'll be monitored.
00:00:07,220 --> 00:00:11,450
Usually with a PSA test and
also with follow up examinations.
00:00:11,450 --> 00:00:15,987
And as long as the PSAs remain low and the
cancer shows no evidence of progressing,
00:00:15,987 --> 00:00:17,844
you're very likely to be cured.
00:00:17,844 --> 00:00:20,934
And you may be monitored
to be assured of that.
00:00:20,934 --> 00:00:26,511
00:00:26,511 --> 00:00:29,707
Typically, follow up will depend on
what's going on with the patient.
00:00:29,707 --> 00:00:33,189
But if a patient has been treated for
localized prostate cancer and
00:00:33,189 --> 00:00:36,857
appears to be cured, they may be
monitored with blood tests like PSA,
00:00:36,857 --> 00:00:39,798
physical examinations and
sometimes with more scans.
00:00:39,798 --> 00:00:43,523
Although usually scans are not
an important part of their monitoring.
00:00:43,523 --> 00:00:47,549
And over time, those visits become
less frequent because by the fifth or
00:00:47,549 --> 00:00:49,529
tenth year, there's a greater and
00:00:49,529 --> 00:00:54,450
greater chance if the numbers remain
good that the patient has been cured.
00:00:54,450 --> 00:00:57,350
Survivorship issues are very important for
patients with prostate cancer,
00:00:57,350 --> 00:00:59,170
because they live for many years.
00:00:59,170 --> 00:01:03,520
And one of the things you wanna be aware
of is the side effects of treatment.
00:01:03,520 --> 00:01:07,890
Sometimes these treatments may affect
quality of life by affecting urinary, or
00:01:07,890 --> 00:01:10,880
sexual, or bowel functioning.
00:01:10,880 --> 00:01:13,700
Also there's a lot of anxiety
associated with the diagnosis of
00:01:13,700 --> 00:01:15,900
prostate cancer as with any cancer.
00:01:15,900 --> 00:01:18,570
And so, because these men can
often live for many, many years,
00:01:18,570 --> 00:01:22,130
you have to address all of these
different aspects of their survivorship.
00:01:23,130 --> 00:01:26,980
In general, in prostate cancer, patients
were treated with surgery, radiation.
00:01:26,980 --> 00:01:30,801
About one out of three will actually
have a risk that the cancer might recur.
00:01:30,801 --> 00:01:32,430
That's a pretty high number.
00:01:32,430 --> 00:01:35,680
And there's lot of anxiety
associated with that possibility.
00:01:35,680 --> 00:01:36,890
In that setting, the truth is,
00:01:36,890 --> 00:01:40,900
we actually have a lot of treatments
that we can use to control the cancer.
00:01:40,900 --> 00:01:44,940
And sometimes to keep it under control for
many years, and sometimes even decades.
00:01:44,940 --> 00:01:48,342
So, this is an unusual cancer in
that even if the cancer recurs,
00:01:48,342 --> 00:01:52,131
we may be able to control it for
many years with additional treatments.
00:01:52,131 --> 00:01:52,631
Prostate Cancer (The Basics). UpToDate. (Assessed on September 13, 2019 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/prostate-cancer-the-basics#H457221549)
Living as a Prostate Cancer Survivor. American Cancer Society. (Assessed on September 13, 2019 at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/after-treatment/follow-up.html)
Second Cancers After Prostate Cancer. American Cancer Society. (Assessed on September 13, 2019 at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/after-treatment/second-cancers.html)