When you hear the words prostate cancer, you may feel prostrate with anxiety. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, with one out of every six eventually being diagnosed. But while prostate cancer can kick you where it counts, it doesn’t have to kick your legs out from under you. Most prostate cancers grow slowly, and treatment options are better and more effective than ever before. More than 2 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives are still alive and well today.
So what is the prostate? Sitting underneath the bladder, it’s a walnut-size gland that produces some of the fluid that protects and nourishes sperm cells in semen. Running through the prostate is the urethra, a narrow tube that carries urine and semen through the penis out of the body. Directly behind the prostate is the lower end of the bowel, otherwise known as the rectum, and right above it are the seminal vesicles, which secrete some of the substances that make up the semen. Running alongside the prostate are the nerves that control erectile function.
You may be wondering why we’re giving an anatomy lesson here, but understanding this gland’s place helps make some of the side effects of treatment for prostate cancer more understandable. Surgery and radiation can disrupt normal urinary, bowel and sexual functioning, but learning how to manage your side effects will help you not only survive after prostate cancer, but also thrive.
A diagnosis of prostate cancer can be the wake-up call that motivates you to make better choices. Eating right and getting enough exercise can help you feel better during treatment and live a long, healthy life.