by Liza Berger
Research has not progressed as much with
prostate cancer as breast cancer because men do
not want to enter studies, confirmed Dr. Otis
Brawley, chief medical officer for the American
Cancer Society. “There’s something about
men,” Brawley said. “They know what they want.
They don’t want to go into a study.” He later
added, “It’s a very ‘man’ thing to not want to
give up that control … over deciding their
destiny and what kind of treatment they should
get,” he said.
Because of the lack of research, doctors do not
yet know which patients with localized prostate
cancer should be treated and which would be
better left untreated, he said. (Localized
cancer is cancer localized to the prostate.
Metastatic cancer, which Dominic had, is cancer
that has spread to other parts of the body.)
While prostate cancer is the most commonly
diagnosed cancer for men over 65, data has found
that approximately 70 percent to 90 percent would be
better left untreated, he said.
“The majority of men who are diagnosed with
localized cancer don’t need any treatment,” Brawley
said. Men with localized prostate cancer can
choose from the options of radiation therapy,
surgery, external beam radiation therapy or a
freezing of the prostate, known as cryosurgery.
Those who have metastatic prostate cancer are
treated with hormone therapy and chemotherapy
following that, he said.
While those with localized prostate cancer do not
require much caregiving, patients with metastatic
cancer do, according to Brawley. The most important
task for a caregiver is to pay attention to the
patient’s nutrition, hydration and cleanliness.
Patients should receive the proper amount of liquids
and foods a day. They should not become dehydrated.
Moving them every four hours is also critical to
prevent pressure ulcers.
Incontinence is a major issue for caregivers, he
said. Men who undergo a radical prostatectomy, or
removal of the prostate, are more likely to have
impotence and incontinence. Incontinence is a top
reason why people are admitted to nursing homes.
Intensive treatment also affects intimacy with a
partner who doubles as a caregiver, said Diana
Price, managing editor of Omni Health Media, a
subsidiary of CancerConsultants.com, a developer of
oncology Web sites and their content.
Price suggests, “There are a lot of proactive things
you can do as a partner and caregiver. Learn as much
as you can about the specific diagnosis and
treatment so you know what to expect along with the
Effective caregivers have three roles, according
to CancerConsultants.com. They serve as advocates
for their patients, they understand patients’ need
to socialize, and they become familiar with
insurance and financial matters. “Caregivers
become part advocate, nurse, organizer and financial
analyst in addition to maintaining other
responsibilities,” the Web site said.