Other side effects
Treatment for prostate cancer may lead to a range of other concerns, but most of these can be managed.
Learn more about:
- Bowel problems
- Hot flushes
- Heart problems
- Other androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) side effects
- How exercise and diet can help
Cancer treatment often makes people very tired. After surgery, it may take some time to get back your strength. With external beam radiation therapy, you may get particularly tired near the end of treatment and for some weeks or months afterwards. Regular exercise can help reduce tiredness.
For more on this, see Fatigue.
Although this is an uncommon side effect of radiation therapy, you may experience rectal bleeding after treatment. It is common to have a stronger sensation of needing to have a bowel movement. A gastroenterologist or colorectal surgeon may treat ongoing bowel problems with changes to your diet, steroid suppositories (a tablet that you insert into the rectum through the anus), laser therapy or other treatments applied to the bowel wall. For more information, talk to your radiation oncologist or a continence nurse.
You may experience hot flushes if you are having androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). Things that may help include drinking less alcohol; avoiding hot drinks; wearing loose-fitting cotton clothing; getting regular exercise; learning relaxation techniques; and trying acupuncture. For more information, talk to your doctors.
Loss of bone density can be a delayed side effect of ADT, so your specialist or GP may need to monitor your bone mineral density. Regular weight-bearing exercise (e.g. brisk walking, light weights or a guided exercise program), eating calcium-rich foods (e.g. yoghurt, milk, tofu, green vegetables), getting enough vitamin D, limiting how much alcohol you drink, and not smoking will also help keep your bones strong. For more information, contact Healthy Bones Australia on 1800 242 141.
Because ADT can increase the risk of heart problems and strokes, your GP or specialist will monitor how well your heart is working and may refer you to a dietitian or exercise physiologist.
Other androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) side effects
The risk of weight gain, mood swings, breast swelling, decreased muscle strength, changed body shape, and high cholesterol increases the longer you use ADT.
How exercise and diet can help
Studies show that regular exercise can help manage the side effects of ADT. It can help improve mood, heart health, bone and muscle strength, and energy levels.
Whatever your age or fitness level, a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can develop an exercise program to meet your specific needs. Ask your doctor for a referral. Exercise after a cancer diagnosis includes examples of different aerobic, strength-training and flexibility exercises.
ADT can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of high cholesterol. Aim to eat a balanced diet with a variety of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and protein-rich foods. It may help to see a dietitian for advice. For more on this see Looking after yourself.
Podcast: Managing Cancer Fatigue
A/Prof Ian Vela, Urologic Oncologist, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Queensland University of Technology, and Urocology, QLD; A/Prof Arun Azad, Medical Oncologist, Urological Cancers, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Nicholas Brook, Consultant Urological Surgeon, Royal Adelaide Hospital and A/Prof Surgery, The University of Adelaide, SA; Peter Greaves, Consumer; Graham Henry, Consumer; Clin Prof Nat Lenzo, Nuclear Physician and Specialist in Internal Medicine, Group Clinical Director, GenesisCare Theranostics, and Notre Dame University Australia, WA; Henry McGregor, Men’s Health Physiotherapist, Adelaide Men’s Health Physio, SA; Jessica Medd, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Department of Urology, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Dr Tom Shakespeare, Director, Radiation Oncology, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Lismore Public Hospitals, NSW; A/Prof David Smith, Senior Research Fellow, Daffodil Centre, Cancer Council NSW; Allison Turner, Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse (PCFA), Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Maria Veale, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council QLD; Michael Walkden, Consumer; Prof Scott Williams, Radiation Oncology Lead, Urology Tumour Stream, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Professor of Oncology, Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology, The University of Melbourne, VIC.
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