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Advocacy - A Weapon in the Fight Against Prostate Cancer

by Liza Berger

(Page 2 of 3)

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, 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 partner.”

Caregiver Roles

Effective caregivers have three roles, according to 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.


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