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Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, but thanks to improvements in detection and treatment, the likelihood of surviving the diagnosis is good. Both the five-year and the 10-year survival rates for all stages of prostate cancer are 98%, according to the American Cancer Society. As a result, there more than 3.1 million men in the U.S. have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point.
Living after a cancer diagnosis is often called "survivorship." The survivorship experience is different for every cancer survivor, but it's possible to predict some of what the survivor might experience based on the type of cancer. For example, both prostate cancer and its treatment can cause urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
"I think survivorship is just a critical issue in prostate cancer management," says Dr. Matthew Tollefson, a Mayo Clinic urologist. "The location of the prostate is a factor, so many men are concerned about urinary function and sexual function, and to some extent bowel function, because these are all in the the general region of the prostate."
After treatment, men may be hesitant to discuss their side effects or be self-conscious about sharing their feelings and worries. Health care providers can help.
"It's absolutely critical to have that discussion with your doctor, says Dr. Tollefson. "We have effective treatments to manage almost all the side effects that can come up, whether they be issues with body composition, or sexual function or urinary control. It's important to understand that that these are common things and recognize that your physician has likely heard this from many people before and really is well-equipped to help manage and get through some of the issues that that do arise."
On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Tollefson discusses what men can expect after treatment for prostate cancer and how they can improve their quality of life going forward.
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