Coping with Prostate Cancer

Facing a prostate cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Your stress levels may skyrocket. You may worry about finances. And you may be asking yourself difficult questions, such as whether to write a living will. With education and supportive care, you will be able to deal with the many issues and emotions you're facing.

How can I make my life better?
The most important step you can take is to seek help as soon as you feel you are having trouble coping. Taking action early will enable you to understand and deal with the many effects of your illness.

How do I keep track of my medical information?

What types of help are available?
There are many sources of help available to provide support for patients and their families. Among them are:

Social workers
Social workers are just one part of the caregiving team who can offer care in a compassionate setting. These professionals can help diminish any concerns you or your loved ones may have about your diagnosis, treatment, or your personal situation.

Social workers can also provide education, counseling regarding lifestyle changes, and referrals to community or national agencies and support groups. Your social worker can also help your family find temporary lodging in your community, assist with financial concerns, provide information about community resources, and help you with any other needs.

Individual counseling
Sometimes people have problems that are better addressed in a one-on-one atmosphere. By participating in individual counseling, you may more effectively express sensitive or private feelings you have about your illness and its impact on your life.

In addition, mental health care providers are available to create a treatment plan to meet your specific needs. Strategies can be designed to help you regain a sense of control over your life and improve your quality of life. At times, if depression is present, medicines other than those treating the physical illness may be prescribed.

Support groups
Support groups are a very useful sharing experience. They provide an environment where you can learn new ways of dealing with your illness. Sometimes, others who have been through similar experiences can explain things differently than your healthcare providers. You may also want to share approaches you have discovered with others. And you will gain strength in knowing that you are not facing hardships alone.

Remember that others may share information or experiences that do not apply to you. Never replace your doctorís advice with that given by another patient.

Financial counselors
Financial counselors may be available through your hospital and can help answer questions you may have about financial issues related to your medical care.

What if I become unable to make decisions about my health care?
Information about advance directives, such as living wills and durable power of attorney for healthcare, is also available.

The living will expresses someoneís right to refuse or accept medical treatment that artificially prolongs his or her life. This document is prepared while the person is fully competent, in case he or she becomes unable to make this decision at a later time.

The living will provides clear instructions regarding the personís choice of extended medical care.

The durable power of attorney for healthcare gives you the right to appoint another person to speak for you if you become incapable of expressing your medical treatment preference. An attorney should devise this document so that it conforms to state laws and court precedents.

Should I write a will?
No one likes to think about his own mortality, but everyone should have a will to ensure that those who survive you will know how to carry out your wishes. This document should be prepared with your attorney.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact the Center for Consumer Health Information at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771. If you prefer, you may visit or This document was last reviewed on: 2/15/2004