This page is for anyone who is close to a man affected by prostate cancer, whether you're a partner, family member or friend. 

Getting information about prostate cancer

Many partners, family and friends of men with prostate cancer find that learning more about prostate cancer and its treatment is helpful. It can help you support your loved one when they need to make decisions about treatment.

Knowing more about prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment helps you to prepare for what will happen and the possible side effects of treatment. All treatments for prostate cancer have a risk of side effects such as:

A treatment called hormone therapy can also cause other side effects.

All treatments have different side effects, which can have an impact on a man's everyday life and the lives of those close to him. But there are ways to manage side effects.

You, your partner or family could attend a learning day about living with and after cancer. Macmillan Cancer Support, the Expert Patients Programme, Penny Brohn Cancer Care, Maggie's Centres, Carers Trust and Carers UK offer this type of service.

Relationships and family life

A diagnosis of prostate cancer can change relationships, friendships and roles
within the family.

These changes can be difficult to come to terms with. But people find that they go through stages of adjusting and develop new ways of thinking about life and relationships. You might find some of these ideas can make life easier:

  • learning more about prostate cancer together
  • talking about things
  • making sure that you are getting all the support you need as a family.

Try to make sure that you make time for family activities, such as holidays.

Relate provide one-to-one counselling and support in numerous centres across the UK. Counselling can also be provided over the phone and via email.

Talking to children
Children can often sense that something is wrong even if they don't understand it. It usually helps to be honest with them.

Macmillan Cancer Support has more information about talking to children about cancer. You could also ask your GP or specialist nurse for advice.

If you are a partner

Prostate cancer and its treatments can affect a man's sex life. If you are a partner of a man with prostate cancer, you might need particular support for relationship and sexual issues.

Sex and relationships
Some partners feel very distressed and may go on to develop anxiety and depression. This can affect how you feel about sex. You may go through:

  • changes to how you feel about yourself - if your partner has a low sex drive this might make you feel less desirable or attractive
  • feeling frustrated or unsatisfied if your sex drive is higher than your partner's or you are having less sexual contact
  • anger or sadness at the loss of the old ways of being together
  • guilt for still having sexual feelings.

Your own desire for sex may change after your partner's diagnosis and during treatment. For example, if you are feeling anxious, you may have less interest in sex. Changes in your relationship, such as changed roles, may also affect how you feel about sex.

It is important to get some support for yourself, perhaps without your partner. Talking to other partners who are experiencing the same thing or getting some counselling may improve things.

Read more about this in our booklet Prostate cancer and your sex life. Watch videos of men talking about their own experiences of sex after prostate cancer.

If you are gay or bisexual find out more about being included at appointments as a partner in Prostate facts for gay and bisexual men.