Emotional Impact

Prostate cancer has an emotional impact on every man living with it – and on partners, family members and friends too. Everyone finds their own ways to deal with things, but there’s support that can help.

If you are feeling very down or worried and are finding it hard to deal with things, speak to your GP or specialist team. There are treatments and support available. If you need to speak to someone immediately you could ring the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.

Just diagnosed?

The old cliché is true – there is no right or wrong way to feel. But it’s not unusual to feel shocked, frightened or angry. Some men find it hard to believe they’ve got cancer – especially if they feel well. And on top of the diagnosis you’ll be asked to think about what treatment to have. This would be a stressful time for most people.

Change and loss

Living with prostate cancer may have changed the way you think about yourself, your life and your plans. These changes can be frustrating and disappointing. Partners and family members might also find that their plans change. You might feel differently towards your body. Some men say they feel less masculine, or as if part of who they are has been lost or changed.

Side effects

The side effects of treatments can also have an emotional impact. Hormone therapy lowers testosterone levels, and this can contribute to a low mood. But dealing with the physical side effects of any treatment might make you feel down or worried.

Is nothing certain?

It might seem as if nothing’s certain with prostate cancer – and this in itself can be hard to deal with. Every treatment has its pros and cons, and if you’re having the cancer monitored instead of treated, you might be worried what the next test or the next appointment will reveal. Some men feel anxious or isolated after treatment has finished, and find it hard to move on and think about the future.

Getting support

Before, during and after treatment, a lot of men find it useful to get some support for the emotional side of things. And so do partners, family members and friends.

Your first reaction might be “I’ll find my own way to cope, thanks.” And you’re right, everyone finds their own way to deal with things. But sometimes outside help can be useful.

You can tell your nurse, doctor or any other health professionals you see how you are feeling.

You might already have your own support network. Would talking to your partner, family and friends help take some of the pressure off you? It might be the start of more open conversations so that everyone can approach difficult topics.

Get in touch with people who have had similar experiences, through your local prostate cancer support group or our online community. If you’d rather speak one-to-one, try our telephone peer support service.

Ask about counselling – a lot of men find it useful. Counsellors are trained to listen, help you to understand your feelings and find your own answers. Your GP can usually refer you to a counsellor or you can pay for one and arrange it yourself. Contact the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy for more information.

If you feel anxious or depressed
  • Tell someone how you are feeling – your GP or doctor or nurse at the hospital can help.
  • Anti-depressant medicine can be effective.
  • Learning ways to relax such as yoga or meditation could help your mood.
  • Exercise might ease feelings of anxiety or depression.
  • Try keeping up with your usual hobbies and social activities. Some men try new activities or do volunteering.
  • Look for courses to learn ways to manage side effects, feelings and relationships. Macmillan Cancer Support, the Expert Patients Programme and Penny Brohn Cancer Care offer free courses.