An older man in three panels sweats from a fire, looks shocked from his nails falling off, and grimaces from bowel pain.

Community Views: The Most Surprising Side Effects of Prostate Cancer

Last updated: January 2023

From the moment someone is diagnosed with prostate cancer, it is common to have little to no idea what comes next. Some men have an understanding of what to expect, but many side effects often show up as a big surprise.

To find out more about which side effects caught you most by surprise, we turned to community members on our Facebook page.

More than 100 community members answered this hot topic. This is what they said.

Dealing with hot flashes

The side effect we heard most that surprised people is hot flashes. Most people think hot flashes happen only to women in menopause, but that is not true. For men undergoing prostate cancer treatments, the resulting drop in sex hormones causes the body to have trouble regulating temperature. Some men choose to get prescription treatments for them, and others simply choose to deal with the hot flashes.1

“Hot flashes from the hormone therapy.”

“Hot flashes make it so I cannot sleep.”

“Chills and hot flashes from my medicine.”

Handling bowel problems

Another unexpected side effect can be bowel problems. This can result from radiation that causes inflammation in the lining of the bowel. It can cause diarrhea or give someone the feeling that they need to use the toilet immediately. Problems with constipation are also possible. For some, bowel problems also show up with pain in the stomach and abdomen. Unfortunately, this is a common side effect of treatment for prostate cancer.2

“Unpredictable bowel movements.”

Feeling tingling in hands and feet

For some men with prostate cancer, tumors in the prostate press into the spinal cord. This results in tingling, numbness, or pins-and-needles feelings, most often in the hands, feet, arms, or legs. For others, the lack of sensation is the result of medicines used to treat prostate cancer. This is known as neuropathy, which is a common side effect of cancer.3

“The drug I was prescribed left me with permanent neuropathy in my hands and feet, and that was only after 8 months of taking it.”

Losing my fingernails

For some men, chemotherapy treatments can cause nail changes. These changes may happen to fingernails, toenails, or both. In some cases, your nails may even fall off. They will most likely grow back, but talk to your doctor about any nail changes that concern you.4

“My fingernails fell off.”

Accepting that prostate cancer changes who you are

This can be a big one. For many men living with the aftermath of prostate cancer, it takes time to accept that they no longer feel like themselves. It can change how you react emotionally. It can change what you are passionate about and what you feel capable of doing.

Overall, this diagnosis can be life-changing in a lot of ways. That said, life may look different, but it is far from over. It may take some time and conversations with a spouse, partner, or other loved one to help you find joy in life again – but that joy can definitely be found.

“Hormone therapy. Killed my drive for everything. Made me a whiney baby. Hated who I was.”

Thank you to everyone who shared for this story. We appreciate your willingness to discuss your side effects with the community and educate others.

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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.

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