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The Relevance of Mental Health for Prostate Cancer Survivors

Prostate cancer survivorship requires ongoing monitoring for cancer recurrence, the development of new cancers, or chronic health conditions. Most of the research on the quality of life of cancer survivors has been completed in the past decade, with the majority of studies focusing on women with breast cancer.

How does mental health play a role?

The mental health stressors that impact prostate cancer survivorship are multifaceted, involving emotional, social, occupational, and financial spheres that increase anxiety and depressive symptoms. Mental health screenings need to be better integrated into active cancer treatment and survivorship with appropriate referrals to mental health professionals. Social workers and patient navigators can help to identify appropriate and affordable resources to improve patients’ mental health status.

Enhancing the quality of mental health services

An Office of Men’s Health at the U.S. Department of Human Services that mirror’s the work of the existing Office of Women’s Health could greatly enhance the quality of mental services available to prostate cancer survivors. What we know is that the Office of Women’s Health, established in 1991, has helped to improve the quality of life for thousands of women. A Government Accounting Office analysis of gender-specific research funding at NIH indicates that spending on conditions that affect females exceeds the spending on conditions that affect males. The economic cost of maintaining the status quo is even more alarming when you consider that prostate cancer is a frequently diagnosed cancer in the United States among men with associated costs in excess of $8 billion annually.

Addressing community needs

Establishing an Office of Men’s Health is needed to investigate these findings and take further actions that promote mental health awareness. Such actions would serve to educate men and their families about the importance of early detection and the appropriate use of prostate-specific antigen as well as other pertinent health issues that can reduce rates of mortality.

A multidisciplinary team that specializes in the psychological, social, and behavioral dimensions of prostate cancer is one way to advance mental health services and treatment. There is a need for periodic mental health screening using validated instruments across the continuum of cancer care. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), is a good resource that uses screening instruments for depression and/or anxiety.

It’s time to support our men

This problem is compounded by the fact that traditional cultural norms in our society make it difficult for men to seek out mental help services. Conceptions about masculinity raise many questions about what it means to be a man. The pressures that many men experience when they are not able to conform to rigid notions of masculinity around gender norms often create tension and anxiety. We must all strive to explore both positives and negative consequences of cultural forces that shape ideas about gender in our society.

Becoming part of the conversation

Ultimately men must take more responsibility for the management, treatment, and delivery of mental health services. This will entail the development of a national infrastructure designed to better understand the needs of men and the development of innovative approaches that address positive health-seeking behaviors.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ProstateCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • kennymaudlin
    3 weeks ago

    I have been on hormone therapy for almost 2 1/2 years for advanced prostate cancer and and I can’t sleep even though I’m always tired the fatigue is bad and diarrhea I don’t feel so good anymore I was wondering if anyone else is experiencing any of the same kind of side effects

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi kennymaudlin. Diarrhea is a known side effect of hormone therapy for PCa. Has your doctor had any thoughts on treatment? This Fact Sheet from the National Cancer Institute on hormone therapy for prostate cancer offers good information on side effects: https://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/prostate-hormone-therapy-fact-sheet. Insomnia is also a known side effect, documented in studies such as here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017240/ and here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22888075. Note: I could have posted several others. Unfortunately the studies tend to simply verify that hormone therapy plays a role in insomnia, without offering thoughts on mitigation. This article does look at treating insomnia for cancer patients in general and may be of some assistance: https://www.oncolink.org/support/side-effects/other-side-effects/insomnia/sleep-problems-insomnia-in-the-cancer-patient. Again, your doctor may have some thoughts. Hoping you get some answers and relief soon. Best, Richard (ProstateCancer.net Team)

  • kennymaudlin
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks for the information I have actually done research on Luprone and eligard seeing all the side effects I was wondering how other people were getting along with hormone therapy to help validate what I am going through,I get the shot every 3 months but don’t get to see oncologist but every 6months ,I have always been a able to get answers here when I have a question until I get to see my oncologist,thanks Richard the input always helps

  • Dennis Golden moderator
    3 weeks ago

    So agree on the concept of ongoing monitoring – Follow surgery it was thought they had gotten it all since nothing was in margins or in lymph nodes – proved not to be the case some 6 years later. Always good to keep in touch with your MD and to get post PSA tests – Dennis (ProstateCancer.net) Moderator

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