Managing Prostate Cancer: A Guide for Living Better
by Andrew J. Roth, M.D.
published by Oxford University Press, 2015
In ten readily approachable chapters, the psychiatrist Andrew Roth leads cancer patients through some steps to help combat the worry, and navigate the practical concerns and strategies related to their disease. His goal, and he succeeds handsomely, is to help men living with prostate cancer, their supporting partners, and loved ones, thrive in what can be an emotional roller coaster experience.
Males in our society frequently shy away from acknowledging, much less managing, their more vulnerable emotions. Through clear examples Roth inspires confidence and hope, for he enables solutions for veterans as well as beginners in the PCa journey as they face multifaceted medical options, physiological manifestations, and concurrent emotional challenges. Here Roth offers guidance, understanding, and concrete suggestions for reframing one’s attitude toward the condition, as well as for how to live a meaningful life both as a prostate cancer survivor and as a patient facing a life with prostate cancer.
An estimated 200,000 cases of prostate cancer (PCa) are newly diagnosed each year in the USA where, in 2017 over 3 million survivors face unexpected psychological stress. Other books address the pros and cons of diagnostics and physiological treatment options: radiation, chemical therapies, prostate removal, and/or hormone deprivation techniques. Knowledge of these related options provides some understanding and assurance. But with over 20 years of experience, Roth, as psychiatry liaison to the Medical Oncology Program at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, unpacks psychological realities of the disease’s impacts as he offers practical information of a different sort.
In two parts, the book first covers New Diagnosis and Early State Disease, then treats Later Stage Disease and Recurrence. Chapters can be selected and read in any order. But even if one zeros in on a topic that at first glance seem most relevant, the author recommends (and I followed his advice and agree) healthy rewards for those who cycle back to the beginning to grasp the underlying basics and Roth’s experience. The author admits that some might be well served by an actual visit with a psychological counselor over PCa issues (and this reviewer concurs fully with that advice), but many may find the insights, humility, and humor set forth here helpful and satisfying enough in their own right.
Several large U.S. cities organize professionally guided support groups for prostate cancer survivors. Like others, one which this reviewer knows personally — Malecare (Google for on-line details) — provides forums for survivor/thrivers to meet regularly to share and discuss their issues and coping mechanisms. In effect, Roth’s book provides a neatly laid out blueprint for the typical profiles and patterns of exchanges that over the past couple of years I’ve seen surface at Malecare sessions I have attended. To those concerned, I recommend both options.
Peter J. Prescott, New York