Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why Men Choose Unnecessarily Aggressive Treatments for Prostate Cancer

Here's a very easy and visual way to understand why too many men are choosing unnecessarily aggressive treatments for prostate cancer. When your Doctor is discussing your prostate cancer his image of your cancer looks something like this:



The picture above also represents the image your Doctor thinks you have of your cancer. In my case, perhaps in yours, his assumption was highly inaccurate. Unfortunately, no one takes the time to understand each others pictures. Here's something like the image I had in my mind as my Urologist told me about my prostate cancer.

 I imagined millions of these guys chopping away at the lining of my prostate 24/7 with the mindless goal of creating a microscopic hole in my prostate. This would allow legions of these cells to migrate into various parts of my body. Once they accomplished their easily achievable goal of creating a microscopic hole in the lining of my prostate, my fate was sealed. In the not too distant future I'd die of prostate cancer.

I spent way too many sleepless nights wondering each night if this would be the night the army of cancer cells in my prostate created the microscopic hole they needed in order to establish new headquarters throughout my body. We were at war, except I wasn't doing anything to defend myself, my body and my life, while my enemy was working 24/7 to kill me.

If that wasn't enough to generate overwhelming anxiety, I was flooded with the memories of everyone I ever knew who died from cancer. It was a very long list!  Some of those on the list died very quickly. Others suffered for many months as cancer ravaged their bodies.

By the time you're old enough to receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer, all of us have our own awful and frightening memories of those we knew and loved who died of cancer. These memories and experiences help shape our fear and our decision making process about how to treat our cancer.

The fear you feel combined with your past experiences with cancer motivates and compels you to make the decision to fight your cancer in the most most aggressive ways possible.

I believe men and their partners need to spend a minimum of  hour with a Health Care Specialist after they are given the news they have prostate cancer. We need help to separate  our fear and our past experiences with cancer. If you do not take the time to do this, you'll probably make a fear based treatment choice.

What's unique about prostate cancer is this: Your cancer could be aggressive, which means an aggressive treatment is appropriate. It could be a very slow growing cancer that would not effect you in any way for decades into the future. Read the previous sentence again. There is such a thing as a slow growing cancer that is NOT life threatening!

The worst thing you can do is to make the decision to go through an unnecessarily aggressive form of treatment based upon your fears about cancer. If you've been recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, take time to:

1, Process your past experiences with cancer. Deal with those fears before projecting them into your current situation. It's possible to have prostate cancer without needing to fear anything.

2, Learn more about the type of cancer you have and whether or not you dealing with a cancer that requires aggressive treatment. You may be one of those fortunate men diagnosed with prostate cancer who can go for decades with active surveillance.

So my best advice is this: Make your treatment decision based on your diagnosis rather than your fear about cancer,  If you are considering the robotic surgical option to treat PC or you'd like additional information about the emotional, relational, sexual and spiritual aspects of prostate cancer, check out my book by clicking HERE