Prostate cancer and its treatment can affect your body and
physical health. Lots of treatments for prostate cancer cause
short-term or long-term side effects. These can often be managed or
There are lots of ways to get support for physical side effects
- let your doctor and nurse know. If they can't help then they can
refer you to other services, even if it's been a while since you
had treatment for prostate cancer.
You can also speak to our Specialist Nurses, in confidence
over the phone or online.
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Fatigue is a range of feelings from tiredness to exhaustion,
which makes it hard to carry out your daily activities. Men
describe feeling weak, lethargic, knackered or drained.
It can affect your energy levels, motivation, ability to
concentrate, emotions and sex drive. Many men find it difficult to
cope with fatigue - and it's not always relieved by rest
Fatigue could be caused by any prostate cancer treatment. It might
improve after your treatment has finished but some men find it
lasts longer. Hormone therapy in particular can cause extreme
tiredness. And men who have advanced prostate cancer are also more
likely to have fatigue.
Where can I get help?
Let your doctor or nurse know how you feel and if you're getting
very tired. They can check what's causing it and look for
ways to help.
It could be your treatment that's causing the fatigue, but there
can also be other causes such as the cancer itself or other
If you have extreme tiredness as a result of prostate cancer and
treatments, our Get back
on track service could help you manage your fatigue so you can
do the things you want to do. It's a ten-week telephone service
delivered by our Specialist Nurses. Call them on 0800 074 8383
to find out more.
What else can help?
Sort out your daily routine, prioritise important tasks and make
time for rest.
Gentle physical activity such as walking or swimming can help to
reduce tiredness. Speak to your doctor before you make any changes
to how you exercise.
If you are struggling to eat enough and you've lost weight, this
could add to your tiredness. Ask your GP to refer you to a
dietitian for advice about your diet. Get more information and diet and physical
Lots of things can help with sleep problems, including
relaxation techniques and dealing with any worries that you are
keeping you awake. Your GP can give you advice on what could help
you sleep and they will sometimes prescribe a short course of
Get support if you are feeling
depressed or anxious, as this can be related to tiredness in
people with cancer.
Some research shows that some alternative therapies can help
people with cancer manage tiredness. These types of therapies
include: acupuncture, breathing control, muscle relaxation,
massage, yoga and different types of meditation.
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Radiotherapy for prostate cancer (external beam
radiotherapy and brachytherapy) can cause
bowel problems for some men. Radiation can cause the lining of the
bowel to become inflamed (proctitis) which then leads to symptoms
- loose and watery bowel movements (diarrhoea)
- passing more wind than usual
- needing to go to the toilet more often, or having to rush to
- feeling an urge to have a bowel movement, but then not being
able to go
- a feeling that your bowels haven’t emptied properly
- pain in the stomach area (abdomen) or back passage
- bleeding from the back passage – this is rare.
Some men find that changes to their bowel habits settle down a
few weeks after finishing treatment. For others, the changes last
longer. Some men get bowel problems months or years after
What can help?
Tell your GP, doctor, nurse or radiographer about any
changes in your bowel habits. They can give advice and support to
help manage them. There are medicines available to help with
symptoms and control diarrhoea.
Your local continence services can assess your bowel problems
and offer advice about treatments. The continence service provides
care and advice for people with bladder or bowel problems and is
usually run by specialist nurses. Ask your GP to refer you.
If you have long term bowel problems, ask to be referred to a
bowel specialist (gastroenterologist). You may have a further test
to check for any damage to the bowel.
How can I manage bowel problems myself?
Living with bowel problems can be distressing, and for a
lot of men it's not an easy thing to talk about. But remember that
doctors and nurses often help men with these issues. They're used
to discussing the problem and finding ways to deal with it.
You may find it helpful to plan ahead and find out where toilets
are before you go out, and carry absorbent pads.
If you are having problems with diarrhoea, eating less fibre for a
short time may help. Low fibre foods include white rice, pasta and
bread, potatoes (without the skins), cornmeal, eggs and lean white
meat. Speak to your doctor, nurse or radiographer before changing
Foods such as beans and pulses, cruciferous vegetables (for
example, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower), fizzy drinks and beer
can all cause wind and bloating so you may want to avoid these.
Chewing your food slowly can also help. Read more about diet and physical
Bowel problems and anal sex
If you’re gay, bisexual or a man who has sex with men, and are the
receptive partner (‘bottom’) during anal sex, then bowel problems
after radiotherapy may be a particular issue. Read our information
and bisexual men.
Cancer Support and the Bladder and Bowel Foundation produce detailed
information about coping with bowel problems.
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