Managing Prostate Cancer Treatment Side Effects

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Topics include: Treatments and Understanding

How can prostate cancer patients minimize side effects and maximize quality of life? Prostate cancers experts, Dr. Tomasz Beer from OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, and Dr. Celestia Higano from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, help patients gain a better understanding of the root of side effects, and share steps to take with your healthcare team to reduce the side effect profile during treatment. They also share exercise tips for patients, and some alternative tools used to relieve the prostate cancer symptom burden.

This virtual town meeting was a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power in partnership with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. We thank Astellas and Sanofi for their support.

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Jeff Folloder:

Let’s talk about treating some of those side effects. What do you have in your toolbox?

Dr. Beer:                

So, one of the things I wanted to start with is just acknowledging that many of the symptoms that have come up in this discussion are due to the treatment and not due to the cancer. 

Jeff Folloder:     

Good point. 

Dr. Beer:                

So, the issues with continence, bladder control, and erectile function may be related to the original treatment for the localized prostate cancer—the surgery and the radiation. Some of the loss of libido and energy—those are often symptoms of hormone therapy, and to some extent, also chemotherapy, potentially.

So, I think the first thing that we do is try to really understand the symptoms based on the surveys that we were talking about earlier, and think about any addressable causes. So, fatigue—there may be anemia that needs to be addressed. There may be an opportunity to adjust some of the medications, perhaps lower a dose or something like that. So we want to make sure that all of those kinds of basic medical things are taken care of.

I couldn’t agree more with Tia that exercise is key, and I would say it’s key not only for energy, but it addresses weight loss, and muscle loss, and the risk of depression...

Dr. Higano:          

...weight gain.

Dr. Beer:                

Weight gain, I’m sorry. You’re right. It addresses…

Jeff Folloder:     

…both are issues—weight gain and weight loss.

Dr. Higano:          

Mainly in our patients, unfortunately, it’s weight gain. 

Jeff Folloder:     

Understood.

Dr. Beer:                

And, one of the interesting things—we’ve had a large research program on exercise at OHSU. One of the recent findings that one of my colleagues made is that the most effective way to get folks exercising is as couples. Now, I know not everyone has a partner or spouse, but those of you who are watching that have a spouse—engage in exercise together. The success rates are higher, and relationships improve. It’s a great idea.

Jeff Folloder:     

That is excellent advice. It doesn’t have to be something that is a long time commitment.

I remember everyone telling me, “Start off very small. Get up. Move around. Start off for 15 minutes and work your way up over time.” And, I thought that they were crazy. How can me walking down to the end of the block and walking back help me? But, it does.

Dr. Beer:                

We like to say start where you are. And, just to comment on the rest of your question – for the other symptoms, there are some solutions or partial solutions for each one that are very specific. So, for incontinence, we start with exercises—Kegel exercises—but some people need additional treatment specifically for that. For hot flashes, there’s acupuncture, there’s medications—so, each symptom has some specific countermeasures which can reduce the burden of those symptoms.

We’re not quite able to take away all of the symptoms that men are forced to live with as a result of the treatments.

Jeff Folloder:     

But, you can’t treat any of this unless you hear about it, right?

Dr. Beer:                

You’ve got to know about it.

Dr. Higano:          

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on February 21, 2018