All serious illnesses cause emotional distress. But prostate cancer patients may be even more vulnerable. This is because treatments for PC often cause erectile dysfunction (in at least 50% of men who’ve had RP, for example), which is highly correlated with depression. Also, some men who’ve undergone treatment have been left with distressing side effects like penile shrinkage or Peyronie’s disease (curvature of the penis). Finally, ED *can and does* cause serious damage to patients’ relationships.
Incontinence, another common side effect of PC treatment, is no fun either.
A number of studies have shown an association between PC diagnosis/treatment with depression and risk of suicide, although I have to stress that MOST men who’ve been treated for PC go on to do fine.. They do not suffer from clinical depression. But if you look at certain online PC listervs that deal with emotions and intimacy, you will find that the “misery index” is stratospheric among SOME patients who’ve been treated for PC and/or their partners. They are not the majority, but I think their numbers are significant. I realize that these forums are biased, but anecdotal evidence does means something.
So it’s striking to me that the upcoming “Duke Prostate Cancer Symposium“, which features a “Patient Day”, lists two speakers who will discuss patient “quality of life” most directly — and both are urologists/oncologists. There is not a single psychiatrist, expert in sexual medicine or relationship counselor on the panel. I believe these are the people who can help most with improving the long-term quality of life of men who’ve had PC treatment. They should be an