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Your Partner Has Been Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer: Now What?

A positive diagnosis of prostate cancer doesn’t necessarily affect only the man diagnosed. His partner is also likely to struggle with the realities of this disease. There are certain things partners of the estimated 161,000 American men likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the coming year need to know. Being armed with information can help partners address their own concerns while also enabling them to better assist their loved ones.

Here are a few tips that can help partners in their quest to provide support for their loved ones while ensuring they, too, are taken care of:

  • Get informed about treatment options – The treatment options for prostate cancer may vary rather greatly based on the stage of diagnosis and the perceived risk of the tumor. If a low-risk tumor is found, men may be able to undergo active surveillance. If higher risk is found, options may include surgery, radiation, brachytherapy, androgen deprivation therapy and more. Partners can assist by asking questions, doing research and working with their loved one and his healthcare provider in making treatment decisions.

  • Be an active participant in medical appointments – If the loved one permits, it can be very helpful for partners to attend medical appointments. This enables them to serve as a secondary listener and may even open the door for questions to be asked that the patient may overlook.

  • Understand the potential side effects – Prostate cancer treatment side effects can vary from treatment to treatment and patient to patient. Partners can help by understanding what to expect and being prepared for the potential.

  • Be willing to address fertility issues, if necessary – While most prostate cancer cases are diagnosed well into a man’s later years, this is not always the case. If fertility is a concern after treatments, partners and doctors should work together to explore the options. Men can, for example, bank sperm prior to treatment.

  • Get personal support if it’s needed – A partner will be a man’s first line of support. That means the partner also needs to be taken care of. Support groups can be very helpful, but so can simply finding another loved one or friend to talk to about the situation. Just be sure not to overlook self-care.

A diagnosis of prostate cancer doesn’t just impact the man involved. Partners can play a vital and active role before, during and after the treatment process. It is important, however, for partners to remember to care for themselves as they care for their loved ones.