Palliative Care and Prostate Cancer

By MaryAnn Fragola, DNP

Patients with prostate cancer are living longer than ever before. Palliative care is especially important in prostate cancer because of this and its progressive nature.

There are many treatment options for localized and advanced prostate cancer, and because of the chronicity and long-term treatments, patients will likely experience adverse effects. It is important to acknowledge some of the common side effects patients experience while trying to maintain a normal life to bring more awareness to Prostate Cancer Month. 

Treatment with surgery, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, or radiation can all contribute to a diminished quality of life. However, adding the support of the palliative care team can make a significant difference in symptom management. Therefore, it is important to be aggressive not only in the treatment of your cancer but also in improving your quality of life. 

Common prostate cancer side effects can include fatigue, anemia, bone pain, weight loss, hot flashes, difficulty urinating, and diarrhea. Other side effects, such as incontinence and loss of sex drive, can be more difficult to cope with. These adverse effects may impact self-esteem, leading to significant psychological effects such as depression or anxiety for the patient and their loved ones.

Many supportive treatments can minimize or alleviate some of the common sequelae of treatments. The palliative care team will help to discuss the patient’s unique situation with their family or caregivers to help ease emotional concerns that may be related to the side effects they are suffering.

One of the most important goals of palliative care is improving the physical symptoms of the cancer itself and addressing possible and potential side effects from ongoing treatments. Recognition of the importance of implementing palliative care in conjunction with prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment and early management of side effects allows patients to live better and focus not only on their diagnosis but also on living a normal life!



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