Gerald Jensen is a survivor of prostate cancer who was diagnosed at the age of 55. His initial treatment was a prostatectomy, or surgical removal of part or all of the prostate gland. Five years later Gerald's prostate cancer returned and he underwent radiation therapy. Gerald's first appointment in the Survivorship Program's MOST clinic was in 2007, and he has returned for annual appointments to receive the most up-to-date information about the late effects of his cancer treatment. For Gerald, a significant concern was his bone health: how to keep his bones as strong as possible and reduce the risk of a fracture. Radiation therapy as part of cancer treatment can result in too little new bone formation or too much bone loss (osteoporosis or osteopenia), causing bones to become weak. Osteoporosis or osteopenia can also occur in some men with prostate cancer who receive a type of treatment called androgen deprivation therapy.
During his annual survivorship visit, Gerald asks questions and discusses any concerns regarding his overall health - not just his cancer. Our experienced clinic staff reviews with Gerald his cancer Survivorship Care Plan, which includes strategies to cope with specific late effects as well as ways to incorporate healthy habits into his life. Each year Gerald leaves his appointment armed with new ways to maintain his active, healthy lifestyle.
"I find my annual visit with the Survivorship Clinic very helpful in reminding me how to stay healthy after cancer and keeping me focused on my continued care," Jenson said. "I am very grateful for the survivorship services available through the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and recommend this clinic to other survivors who have finished cancer treatment."
There are many other long-term or late effects that prostate cancer survivors may face after treatment; examples include erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Oftentimes, treatments and coping strategies to deal with these late- or long-term effects are available and we encourage cancer survivors to talk with their health care providers or be seen in a dedicated survivorship clinic to address these concerns.