Coming to terms with prostate cancer

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Some men want to yell when they learn they have prostate cancer. Some want to cry. Others are completely silent. Coming to grips with a prostate cancer diagnosis and getting the support you need are as important as your medical treatment.

Men respond in all kinds of ways to living with prostate cancer and it’s all very personal. But these feelings of anger, sadness and losing hope don’t have to last forever. You can get through the ups and downs, one step at a time.

What’s normal to be feeling
after your prostate cancer diagnosis?

Everyone’s different, but you may experience a wide range of feelings, including:

  • shock and anger

  • denial

  • worry

  • loneliness

  • feeling like a burden on others

How cancer can affect emotional health

In this moment, there can be a variety of things that cause emotional upheaval:

  • Sense of loss 
    Physical changes to your body, such as putting on weight, losing physical strength, or changes to your sex life could make you feel differently about yourself.

  • Diminished sense of manhood 
    Some men say a prostate cancer diagnosis or treatment makes them feel less of a man. Other times, men feel their role in the family has changed—for example, they’ve had to stop working.

  • Mood swings 
    Some treatments, like hormone therapy, can make you feel a wide range of emotions in a short amount of time. This can mean getting teary-eyed one moment and extremely angry the next.


It’s important to know that you’re not alone, and there are many people (like friends and family) in your corner to support you. Speak to your doctor, care team, a counselor, or a prostate cancer support group if you're feeling overwhelmed.

Call the Cancer Helpline on 1-800-227-2345 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) to speak with a trained cancer information specialist.

You can also contact the American Cancer Society for information and resources to help with the mental and emotional changes that may come after a cancer diagnosis.

Taking Action

Everyone has their own way of dealing with prostate cancer. Here are ways you can take action:

  • Learn as much as possible about your prostate cancer treatment. Find out how your doctor plans to treat your cancer—including potential side effects—so you know your options and what to expect.

  • Be as active as you can. Even gentle walking can improve your mood. 

  • Think about what you eat and drink. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can give you an energy boost. 

  • Take care of yourself. When you feel up to it, learn some techniques to manage stress and relax, like listening to music, yoga or breathing exercises.

  • Join a cancer support group. Your healthcare provider may be able to connect you to a local support group.

  • Focus on other things too. Set fun goals and things to look forward to.

Who can help you get better?

Trained counselors

Counselors are trained to listen and can help you to find your own ways to deal with things. Many hospitals have counselors or psychologists who specialize in helping people with cancer — ask your care team at the hospital if this is available or if they know of services in the community you can access at low or no cost to you. Your doctor may also be able to refer you to a counselor, or you can seek out a private counselor yourself.

To find out more information and locate a therapist or counselor near you, visit the American Counseling Association or Good Therapy.

Your medical team

Talk to your nurse, doctor or someone else in your care team. They can help you understand your prostate cancer diagnosis, treatment, and side effects, listen to your concerns and put you in touch with other people who can help. They can also help you understand what services are covered by your insurance plan.

Free nationwide peer-support service  
Support services and choosing a cancer counselor
Online support groups for prostate cancer
Resources, support and advocacy for men with prostate cancer and their families
Free
personalised one-on-one cancer support
service
Survivor support and advocacy for men with cancer

What's next?

Now that you've read up on Coming to terms with prostate cancer, here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
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