Judy Kelly (RN), Urology Nurse Specialist, gives advice on how best to prepare for prostate cancer treatment…
Just say you or one of your loved ones has been given a diagnosis of prostate cancer and it requires treatment. It is a frightening thought for many and there may be a feeling of lack of control which is possibly the most disabling of all human emotions.
One of the best ways to get back ‘In control’ is to prepare for treatment, and one of the best ways to prepare (provided you are fairly fit and well) is with exercise.
The advantages are many and surprising, but there is nothing more heartening for the surgeon and team of people caring for the man diagnosed with prostate cancer, than one who is prepared.
We talk about ‘training for surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy as if training for a marathon’, and that the sooner you can start after diagnosis and treatment decision, the better the result.
The key goals are:
• Enhancing resilience
• Limiting structural and physical decline
• Supercharging treatment effectiveness
We call this ‘Exercise Medicine’ and recent studies show this to be the most effective tool in a man’s toolbox. We say, if you could bundle all the positive effects of exercise into one pill it would be the most prescribed pill in history.
The advantages of pre-treatment exercise are many (see the list below). If you haven’t previously exercised regularly, or even if you have, consider a personal trainer or someone with the knowledge and expertise to guide you and give you a personalised program.
A combination of resistance (targeting large muscle groups across the whole body), aerobic exercise and impact exercise (if appropriate and feasible) is best. Ideally aim to build up to 3 to 5 hours of exercise a week, or more if you are already exercising at this level.
Advantages of pre-treatment exercise:
• Reduces fatigue
• Increases muscle tone
• Improves quality of life (QOL)
• Improves survivorship
• Reduces risk of other cancers
• Reduces emotional and psychological distress
• Reduces anxiety and depression
• Improves sleep quality
• Reduces treatment side effects and can enhance treatment effects, for example, radiotherapy. Poor muscle mass and quality is associated with increased treatment toxicities.
Any exercise makes us feel more confident and more aggressive in dealing with disease and treatment.
While I suppose it’s a bit of a buzz phrase to talk about ‘training for surgery or treatment as if you’re training for a marathon’, the overarching message is still that for most patients, doing some exercise is better than no exercise, and generally more exercise is better than less.
Further articles to assist patients and their families on their prostate cancer journey will continue to be posted on this website.
Judy Kelly (RN, Urology Nurse Specialist), Judekelly34@gmail.com
Special thanks to Dr Nicholas Hart & Professor Rob Newton (Edith Cowan University) whose studies and lectures have inspired and influenced us.