This booklet is for men who have been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. It contains information to help you understand side effects from treatment, and ways to manage them. It may also be helpful for your family and friends.
In Australia, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. It is estimated that in 2014, about 21,000 Australian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, accounting for approximately 30% of all new cancers in men.
Advanced prostate cancer is when the cancer is no longer contained within the prostate gland, and cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body.
There are different types or stages of advanced prostate cancer:
- Locally advanced – the cancer has extended beyond the prostate and may include seminal vesicles (tumour stage T3) or other surrounding organs such as the bladder or rectum (tumour stage T4)
- Metastatic - the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body such as bone.
For some men, there is no evidence of the disease spreading to other parts of the body (either through a bone scan or a CT scan) but a rising prostate specific antigen (PSA), which is a form of progression showing the disease is active. This is referred to as biochemical progression.
Depending on the stage of your advanced prostate cancer, there are treatments that aim to remove the cancer, slow its growth, or reduce symptoms to maintain and improve your quality of life.
Your cancer journey
After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s common for you to see a number of health professionals with different expertise who work together as a team, called a multidisciplinary team (also known as a healthcare team). Best practice treatment and supportive care for people with cancer involves a team of different health professionals. Each team member brings different skills that are important in managing care and in making decisions around your individual needs. The team includes health professionals who are involved in diagnosing your cancer, treating your cancer, managing symptoms and side effects, assisting you with your feelings or concerns during your cancer journey.
The cancer journey is your personal experience of cancer. It’s not the same for everybody, even with the same type of cancer. Depending on your stage of prostate cancer and other underlying conditions, your experience may be quite different.
As the diagram Your cancer journey shows, it can be useful to think of the journey in stages that may include detection, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care and survivorship. For some, it may include end of life care. Take each stage as it comes so you can break down what feels like an overwhelming situation into smaller, more manageable steps.
Many people want to take an active part in making decisions about their care. Gaining information about prostate cancer and its treatment will help you make decisions. The aim of this booklet is to provide you with information that you can then use as a guide to further discussions with your doctor and healthcare team about treatment related side effects. Being informed enables you to participate in decisions about your care and leads to improved experiences and better care.