This page is for anyone who is close to a man affected by
prostate cancer, whether you're a partner, family member or
Getting information about prostate
Many partners, family and friends of men with prostate cancer
find that learning more about prostate cancer and its treatment is
helpful. It can help you support your loved one when they need to
make decisions about treatment.
Knowing more about prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment helps you
to prepare for what will happen and the possible side effects of
treatment. All treatments for prostate cancer have a risk of side
effects such as:
A treatment called hormone therapy can also cause other side effects.
All treatments have different side effects, which can have an
impact on a man's everyday life and the lives of those close to
him. But there are ways to manage side effects.
You, your partner or family could attend a learning day about
living with and after cancer. Macmillan Cancer
Support, the Expert
Patients Programme, Penny Brohn Cancer
Centres, Carers Trust and Carers UK offer this type of
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Supporting someone with
If you are close to a man with prostate cancer you are likely to
want to support him and be there for him. Doing something to help
might also ease your own feelings of distress and help you feel
more in control. But be aware of your limits and recognise that you
don't have to do everything. Could other friends or family help out
with some things?
It is not unusual for men with prostate cancer to feel worried or
low. If you notice that your loved one is finding it difficult
to cope, encourage him to speak to his GP or doctor or nurse.
There are treatments and support available. He can also
call our Specialist Nurses on our confidential helpline or the
Samaritans (open 24 hours) on 08457 90 90 90.
What can I do to help?
All men with prostate cancer are different and what helps one may
not be right for another.
- Talking about it. Many men with prostate
cancer value being able to talk to those close to them about how
they are feeling. Macmillan
Cancer Support have information about how to talk to someone
with cancer. Of course, some men won't want to talk about
- Just being there. Some men say that just
having family and friends around is enough. Just chatting about
normal things and doing some everyday activities together might
help. Encourage your loved one to see family and friends and to
keep up with social activities and hobbies if he feels up to
- Lifestyle changes. Many men with prostate
cancer say that they want to be able to manage their side effects,
themselves. This could involve, for example, changing their
diet or being more physically
active. Some partners and family members find that supporting
their loved one to make lifestyle changes gives them a sense that
they are doing something to help.
- Going to appointments. You might be able to go
along to hospital or GP appointments with your loved one or friend.
Before you go, talk about any questions you have. Some people find
it helps to take notes or to ask the doctor to record the
conversation on a tape or an MP3 player. This can help you to keep
track of important details.
- Help at home. Some men with prostate cancer
have difficulty carrying out their usual activities. This could be
because of side effects or because they are recovering from
treatment. Try not to take on too much yourself. This will help
make sure that you don't tire yourself out and will help your loved
one maintain his independence. If you could do with some extra help in the home, get in touch with
your local authority's social services department or your GP to see
if they can give you some advice or support.
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The diagnosis of a loved one can have a big impact on your life,
so make sure you look after yourself. This is important for your
sake and so that you can support your loved one.
Each person's response to being close to a man with prostate
cancer will be different. But you may be dealing with some of the
Some people close to a man with prostate cancer go on to develop
anxiety and depression. If you are feeling very down or worried and
are finding it difficult to cope, there are treatments and support
available. Speak to your GP or call a Specialist Nurse on our
confidential helpline, or contact
Carers UK. If you need to speak to
someone immediately, ring the Samaritans (open 24 hours a day) on
08457 90 90 90.
Thinking about the future
It's natural to find it difficult and upsetting to think about the
future - particularly if your loved one has advanced
prostate cancer. Many men will have successful treatment and
live with cancer for many years although the outlook for other men
won't be as good. But you might find that making plans helps you
feel more prepared for what the future may hold, and reassured
about the future for your family.
What can help?
- Be kind to yourself. It is natural to have
negative feelings, so go easy on yourself. Don't expect to have all
the answers. Everyone has their own way of coping.
- Getting information. Knowing what side effects
your loved one might get, can help you prepare for the impact these
might have on you.
- Health professionals. You could talk to your
own GP, practice nurse, or any other health professionals about how
you are feeling. You can also call our Specialist Nurses on our
- Friends and family can provide a good support
network. This might be practical support or having someone to talk
to about how you feel. Think of friends or family who might be able
to help with certain tasks. For example, driving to appointments
when you can't go, collecting prescriptions, doing some shopping or
cleaning if you're too busy, or looking after your children for a
- Support groups. You could get in touch with
your local prostate
cancer support group. Many support groups welcome partners,
friends and relatives.
- Online communities. Sign up to the Prostate
Cancer UK online
community, where you can share your views and experiences with
others affected by prostate cancer.
- One-to-one telephone peer support. Call our
Specialist Nurses on our confidential helpline who will
match you, where possible, with one of our volunteers who has had
- Counselling. Some people find it easier to
talk to someone they don't know. Counsellors can help you
understand your feelings and find your own answers. Your GP might
be able to refer you to a counsellor. You can also find a
counsellor yourself. The
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy has
information about counsellors in your area.
- Spiritual support. You may find that your
beliefs offer you great comfort or support. Get spiritual support
if you need it. This could be from your friends or family. Or it
could be from your religious leader or faith community.
- Make time for yourself. Do something nice for
yourself at least once a week. You could have a cup of tea with a
friend, buy a book or do some gardening.
- Look after your health. People close to those
with cancer can sometimes find that their own health gets worse.
This might be because of stress or because they have become a
full-time carer. Or because they don't have the time to look after
Work and money
If you are caring for a man with prostate cancer, you may be
entitled to time off work or flexible working. Your manager should
be sensitive to the fact that you're coping with cancer.
If you or your partner reduce your working hours this will impact
on your financial situation but you might be entitled to certain
benefits and grants. It can help to get some financial advice to
make sure you're getting all the help you need. The following
organisations offer more information.
- Macmillan Cancer
Support provides financial information and advice to people
affected by cancer.
- Your local Citizens
Advice Bureau offers independent and confidential advice,
including help with benefits forms.
- Call the Benefits Enquiry Line on 0800 882 200 or 0800 220 674
in Northern Ireland.
- Carers UK provides information about
financial help for carers.
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and family life
A diagnosis of prostate cancer can change relationships,
friendships and roles
within the family.
These changes can be difficult to come to terms with. But people
find that they go through stages of adjusting and develop new ways
of thinking about life and relationships. You might find some of
these ideas can make life easier:
- learning more about prostate cancer together
- talking about things
- making sure that you are getting all the support you need as a
Try to make sure that you make time for family activities, such
Talking to children
Children can often sense that something is wrong even if they don't
understand it. It usually helps to be honest with them.
Support has more information about talking to children about
cancer. You could also ask your GP or specialist nurse for
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If you are a partner
Prostate cancer and its treatments can affect a man's sex
life. If you are a partner of a man with prostate cancer, you
might need particular support for relationship and sexual
Sex and relationships
Some partners feel very distressed and may go on to develop anxiety
and depression. This can affect how you feel about sex.
You may go through:
- changes to how you feel about yourself - if your partner
has a low sex drive this might make you feel less desirable or
- feeling frustrated or unsatisfied if your sex drive is higher
than your partner's or you are having less sexual contact
- anger or sadness at the loss of the old ways of being
- guilt for still having sexual feelings.
Your own desire for sex may change after your partner's
diagnosis and during treatment. For example, if you are feeling
anxious, you may have less interest in sex. Changes in your
relationship, such as changed roles, may also affect how you feel
It is important to get some support for yourself, perhaps without
your partner. Talking to other partners who are experiencing the
same thing or getting some counselling may improve things.
Read more about this in our booklet Prostate
cancer and your sex life. Watch
videos of men talking about their own experiences of
sex after prostate cancer.
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