I’m Newly Diagnosed
You are not alone. The good news is that most prostate cancers are slow-growing and that with early detection and treatment, it can be cured. Increasing your knowledge by reviewing our Frequently Asked Questions section here as well as other areas of the web site helps relieve the stress and helps make decisions clearer.
Over the last 12 months, approximately 26, 500 Canadians were diagnosed with prostate cancer. This represents an average of 73 men per day. You are definitely not alone in your fight against prostate cancer. The good news is that we know most prostate cancers are slow-growing, which means that with early detection and treatment, it can even be cured.
Once diagnosed, men will go through understandable and normal reactions, such as fear, denial, anger, helplessness and feeling of loss of control over their life. Once reality sets in, a constructive way to deal with the disease is to learn as much as you can about it. Increasing your knowledge about prostate cancer helps relieve the natural fear of the unknown, and makes the decision-making process easier.
Frequently Asked Questions :
Click here for the full list of prostate cancer-related FAQs.
A Rising PSA
What Is A PSA?
A PSA is a blood test. It stands for prostate specific antigen, a protein produced only by the prostate gland. It is measured in nanograms per millilitre. For more detailed information, see our PSA page.
An Elevated PSA
Generally a PSA count under 4 nanograms per millilitre of blood is considered normal. An elevation in PSA level can be an indication of the followings:
- Benign prostatic hypertrophy: an enlargement of the prostate gland (this condition is not a disease);
- Prostatitis: an infection of the prostate gland; or
- Prostate cancer.
Your specialist will order appropriate tests to determine the exact cause of the increase in PSA values.
An Elevated PSA After Remission
After you have undergone some kind of treatment for your prostate cancer, whether surgery, radiation therapy or hormonal therapy for example, the PSA level should respond by decreasing and staying stable. Should your blood test levels later show a significant rise on a few consecutive occasions, this most likely represent a recurrence that may require more treatment.
I’m a Family Member or a Friend
If one has never been through a major crisis like cancer, it is hard to understand what a patient is initially going through. As far as family members and friends are concerned, it is important to find a way to understand and deal with the emotional reactions caused by this new diagnosis. You need to demonstrate patience, be tolerant and accept the changes of moods, the ups and downs, the fear and the anger – all those reactions he may be showing. In time, these will diminish and he will be in a better position to express and verbalize his feelings. Until he adjusts – and this takes time – don’t confront him, don’t push him to make drastic decisions about treatment options or changes of roles in the family network.
It is imperative to start forming a support network as soon as the diagnosis of prostate cancer has been made. This network should consist of people who will be able to provide you with emotional or practical help when needed. You need to recruit them from close relatives or friends, people with whom you share a trusting relationship.
As a primary caregiver, you also need to manage your own emotional response to the new challenges brought on by this diagnosis. You need to develop your own coping mechanisms. As you don’t want to burden him with your own fears and anxieties, you need to form your own support system. Make sure you also have someone in whom you can confide in and that you can count on at any time. Don’t isolate yourself.
During periods of crisis, everyone involved is stressed, reacts differently and requires a certain amount of time to adapt to changes. People may become more centred on themselves, refusing to consider the other’s point of view, and as a result neglects the emotional and physical needs of others.
Maintaining good communication is crucial. Be aware of your tone of voice: it can say a lot about your mood. Don’t forget that a good part of communication is done through your body language. Look at the person you are talking to, nod your head to acknowledge that the person has your attention, and ask questions when things are not clear. Share and verbalize your feelings with each other. This helps ensure that you get some of that emotional support that you all need. It can also resolve certain new issues that may have evolved from this new diagnosis. Do not take anything for granted. Enjoy all the special moments life brings and share them together.