Prostate Cancer: Not Just An Older Man’s Disease
Patient Perspective Up until recently, treatment options were extremely limited for men who developed metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) but advances in drug therapies have resulted in renewed hope for many men, both old, and young.
While it is true that most men who live with mCRPC are older, younger men also develop the disease. Such a diagnosis is devastating for any man — but for those who are younger, there is often additional heartbreak.
Coming to terms with such a diagnosis is a difficult proposition for anybody, but the thoughts of many younger men with mCRPC often turn to their families — and how they will cope in the aftermath. Losing the ability to work and provide for their families is an additional stress. Many men derive a sense of self-worth and pride in their working lives and having that removed can affect self-esteem. The advent of these new treatments, while not a miracle cure, are extremely helpful for those who want to make the most of their remaining time.
“I’m feeling the best today that I’ve felt over the past seven-and-a-half years.”
Improved quality of life
Painstaking research has resulted in new drugs that not only help to extend the lives of men with mCRPC, but can also increase its quality. Dr. Tony Finelli is a urologic oncologist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, and is enthusiastic about the new treatments. “The new drugs help on a number of fronts — not just prolonging life,” says Dr. Finelli. “They also vastly improve quality of life with better energy levels, reduced pain, and an increased ability to conduct activities in daily living.”
The ability to carry out day-to-day activities is vital, especially for men who develop the disease at an early age.
Rebecca McKinney is a registered nurse who has seen both the physical and psychological effects of new treatments. “The extra bit of time is critical, whether it is being with their loved ones or being able to attend a special event like a wedding. It’s huge. I know someone who went on a cruise and took his whole family. It means everything to these men.”
“I became a new man”
One such man is Stewart Campbell, 66. Doctors diagnosed Stewart with prostate cancer at just 58 years old, eventually developing mCRPC. “The diagnosis took a while to sink in as we went through the various tests, but what shook me up was when the radiation oncologist said ‘radiation will only be palliative.’ That word really hit me. I sat down with my wife, and for the first time shed some tears.” Soon after, Stewart retired from his job as a consultant. “I retired on the basis that I was beginning to lose performance; I wasn’t able to have attention to detail. I don’t think I was depressed, but I just wasn’t performing.”
Things changed though, when Stewart participated in a study examining the effectiveness of new drugs. The results, says Stewart, were shocking. “I became a new man. I’m feeling the best today that I’ve felt over the past seven-and-a-half years. I’m able to do so much more now and am even executive director of our local prostate cancer survivor group.”
While these new treatments cannot cure cancer — they can do something that is truly inspiring — return power and dignity, to those living with mCRPC.