Coping with your diagnosis

Men respond in different ways to being diagnosed with prostate cancer. You might be scared, worried, stressed or even angry. You may want to find out more about what treatments are available to you.

If you have any questions about your diagnosis you can ask your doctor or nurse at the hospital, or speak to our Specialist Nurses over the phone or speak to a nurse online.

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What is my outlook?

Many men will want to know how successful their treatment is likely to be. This is sometimes called your outlook or prognosis. No one will be able to tell you exactly what your outlook will be, as every cancer is different and it will depend on many things, such as the grade and stage of your cancer, and how quickly it is growing.

Not everyone will want to know about their outlook, but if you do, speak to your doctor. They will be able to talk to your about your own situation.

Localised prostate cancer

For many men with localised prostate cancer, treatment will get rid of the cancer. However, for some men treatment will be less successful, and the cancer may come back again. But there are further treatments available if your cancer does come back.

Locally advanced prostate cancer

Treatments for locally advanced prostate cancer aim to get rid of the cancer or control it long term. This will depend on how far your cancer has spread.

Advanced prostate cancer

While it is not possible to cure advanced prostate cancer, hormone therapy may control it for several years.

When hormone therapy stops working, there are other treatments available to keep the cancer under control for a further period of time. The aim of all these treatments is to control the cancer for as long as possible without making you feel too unwell from the side effects of the treatment. They also help to manage the symptoms of advanced prostate cancer.

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What support is available to me?

There are things you can do to help yourself and there are people who can help. Families can also find this a difficult time and they may need support too. This section might also be helpful for them.

How can I help myself?

  • Find out about your treatment options, so you know what to expect.
  • Find out about any side effects of treatment, so you know what to expect, and how you can try to manage them.
  • Be as active as you can. Physical activity can lift your mood.
  • Think about what you eat and drink. Some men find they manage better by aiming for a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Unload what’s going around in your head – find someone you can talk to. It could be someone close, or someone trained to listen, like a counsellor or your medical team.
  • Take time out to look after yourself. When you feel up to it, learn some techniques to manage stress and to relax – like listening to music or breathing exercises.
  • Set yourself goals and things to look forward to – even if they’re just for the next few weeks or months.
  • Find more strategies in our booklet, Living with and after prostate cancer: A guide to physical, emotional and practical issues.
  • Get more ideas about how to look after yourself from Macmillan Cancer Support, Maggie's Centres, and Penny Brohn Cancer Care, as well as local cancer support centres.

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Who can help?

Our Specialist Nurses

Our Specialist Nurses can answer your questions, help explain your diagnosis and go through your treatment options with you. They’ve got time to listen to any concerns you or those close to you have about living with prostate cancer. Everything is confidential. Speak to them over the phone or chat to a nurse online.

Your medical team

It could be useful to speak to your nurse, doctor, GP or someone else in your medical team. Your main point of contact might be called your key worker. This could be your specialist nurse or another health professional. They can help you understand your diagnosis, treatment and side effects, listen to your concerns, and put you in touch with other people who can help.

Trained counsellors

Counsellors are trained to listen and can help you to find your own answers and ways to deal with things. Many hospitals have counsellors or psychologists in their team who are specialists in helping people with cancer – your doctor or nurse at the hospital will be able to let you know if this is available.

There are different types of counselling available. Your GP may be able to refer you to a counsellor, or you can see a private counsellor. To find out more contact the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy.

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Talking to someone affected by prostate cancer

Talking to someone with similar experiences might help. Our one-to-one support service is a chance to speak to someone who’s been there and understands what you’re going through. They can share their experiences and listen to yours. You could discuss treatment options, dealing with side effects, or telling people about your cancer – whatever’s important to you.

You can also join our online community where you can share your experiences with other men and their families.

There are prostate cancer support groups across the country, where you can meet other people affected by prostate cancer.

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Practical support

You might need to make decisions about things like work and money.

If you live in England and are having treatment for cancer, including treatment for the symptoms or side effects, you are entitled to free prescriptions. Anyone over 60 in England also gets free prescriptions. You’ll need to apply for a medical exemption certificate. Ask your doctor for a FP92A form. Once you have filled out the form, your doctor will need to sign it, and the certificate will be sent to you. You can find out more about free prescriptions from NHS Choices.

If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, all prescriptions are free.

Read more about emotional and practical issues.

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References

You can find a full list of references used to produce this page in our online fact sheet.