This post has been moved from my book-blog to this one. My dad finished treatments this spring (2015) and no longer has cancer. The original article was posted 13 August 2014.
My dad went in to the hospital today to get his treatment schedule. First he will receive hormone (androgen deprivation) treatment with pills every day for three months, then gold will be inserted into his prostate, then an MR, then seven weeks/five days a week radiation treatment of the gland and finally injections every 12 weeks for the two years after his final radiation treatment.
His form of prostate cancer is somewhat aggressive but not very aggressive.
These treatments will in effect neuter him. So sex-life isn’t going to be the same. I do realize my parents have had one. Four children does indicate that. It’s just not something that I think about in conjunction with my parents. I think I’m feeling kind of sad that my dad is going to lose that part of his life (if he hasn’t already lost it).
How will this affect my father?
Some of the potential side-effects of his hormone treatment are:
- Reduced or absent libido (sexual desire)
- Impotence (erectile dysfunction)
- Shrinking of testicles and penis
- Hot flashes, which may get better or even go away with time
- Breast tenderness and growth of breast tissue
- Osteoporosis (bone thinning), which can lead to broken bones
- Anemia (low red blood cell counts)
- Decreased mental sharpness
- Loss of muscle mass
- Weight gain
- Increased cholesterol
In some ways I guess we could say that what he is going to go through is what women go through when they enter menopause. I am at that stage in my life and for me it hasn’t been too bad. Hopefully, the intensity of my father’s side-effects will be no worse, but it is impossible to “see” into that future.
His intermittent treatment after the end of the radiation treatment would seem to have some but not all of the above side-effects.
There is a lot of discussion about the various manners of hormone treatment, their effectiveness and their side-effects.
Side effects of his radiation treatment:
I think the type of radiation treatment my dad is going to get is called Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). There seem to be no side-effects to the treatment except for the possibility of tender skin where the beams are being shot.
Prostate cancer is common
Once a guy hits 50 his prostate gland is likely to grow without it having anything to do with cancer. By 70 eight in ten guys have enlarged prostates. My dad is 74. Some of these develop into cancer. In fact, it is the most common form of cancer among men. As with all sorts of cancer, early intervention matters along with how aggressive the cancer is. Age also matters. The older you are when you develop cancer, the likelier it is that you will survive it. Some men die of other causes without ever having known that they have developed prostate cancer.
Am I worried? NO, not even a little bit. I just wish my dad did not have to go through the process that he is about to enter. I also wish he didn’t have to be neutered. That sucks royally.