I don’t think in the history of mankind a wise man ever said, “Worry about it.”
But let’s face it. You’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer. You’re worrying. You’re probably contemplating chemical or surgical treatment.
But do you remember a few weeks ago when I posted about the man from Santa Rosa who decided to forgo conventional treatment for his prostate cancer? You know, the man who went vegan, started doing smart supplementation, and became an avid mountain climber ? He’s still alive, 21 years after his diagnosis. He didn’t get any treatment at all.
My guess is that he did a lot of hard thinking 21 years ago to figure out what he was going to do.
A new study published in the February issue of the Journal of Urology found that men who freak out about their prostate cancer diagnosis are much more likely to choose treatment they don’t actually need. This is despite the fact that many men undergo Active Surveillance (described below) when diagnosed with low risk prostate cancer.
And when we’re talking about conventional prostate cancer treatment, which may come with complications, this is pretty unfortunate.
The study details on Prostate Cancer distress after diagnosis
This study looked at more than 1,500 men who had been diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer. (Note: that means none of them had aggressive prostate cancer or anything potentially serious.) Researchers measured the men’s self-reported level of emotional distress before they chose their treatment.
The more emotionally distressed a man was, the more likely he was to choose surgery over active surveillance.
(Active surveillance, as you may, basically means no immediate treatment is necessary but with regular check-ups with the idea for treatment with intentions to cure if things progress.)
It’s important to note that the one constant for all these men was the risk level of their prostate cancer. It was all low-grade, which means it was a Gleason 6 and a PSA less than 10 ng/ml. Still, some of the men chose surgery.
They chose surgery despite the fact that most low-grade prostate cancer is not a death sentence. There are an estimated 3 million prostate cancer survivors in America right now.
They chose surgery despite the fact that surgery comes with inconvenient side-effects. Conventional treatment for prostate cancer tends to cause
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Although the incontinence rate has significantly reduced, ED, not so much.
They chose surgery despite the fact that (as we saw with the Santa Rosa guy) you can actually slow your prostate cancer progression through lifestyle changes. In my CaPLESS Method, I recommend:
- Eating a clean, nutritious diet low in processed carbohydrates, high in cruciferous vegetables and good quality fish.
- Getting at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day (meaning, you have to sweat)
- Getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night
- Establishing a solid stress management strategy. This one may help.
- Taking dietary supplements in an intelligent way to fill the gaps of an imperfect diet
My take on freaking out about your diagnosis for Prostate Cancer
Don’t do it. Your prostate cancer is not going to take over your body overnight (or possibly ever), so sleep on it. Take a few weeks to figure out what you want to do—if anything. Active surveillance is a great option for many men, and it comes with no side effects.
Plus, it gives you more time to make meaningful, permanent changes in your lifestyle.
The bottom line
Don’t freak out. Take five diaphragmatic breaths – this guy, around minute 13:15 can teach you how. (The whole talk is good , if you have 17 minutes). If you have low-risk prostate cancer, just wait for a few weeks until you’ve calmed down. Then see what are all your potential treatment options, if any. And remember to take this diagnosis as an opportunity to make the lifestyle changes that creates a microenvironment that is hostile to cancer. Also, take a closer look at your day-to-day behavior and see if it matches what you value. In other words, you may be working 85 hours a week but really value time with your partner. Or your kid. You know what I mean… make your actions congruent with what is important to you.