Men do survive prostate cancer and die of something else. Men also die of prostate cancer. Of the 180,400 new cases of prostate cancer expected in America in 2000, 89 percent will survive at least five years and 63 percent will survive 10 years, according to the American Cancer Society. But the ACS estimates that in 2000, 31,900 men in the United States will die of prostate cancer, accounting for about 13 percent of male cancer-related deaths.
If the tide of your fight against cancer turns, treatments are less likely to slow the spread of the disease. The effect of the cancer on your bones, blood and other organs will become more obvious and your quality of life will be affected. You may still be working and participating in community activities, sports and house- hold chores. With adjustments, you may continue to do so for some time.
Your body will tell you when the shift of power has taken place; symptoms will occur that should alert you that you might not survive the disease.
These symptoms do not occur in any specific order or on any particular time-line. Some patients may experience only one or two of the symptoms; others may experience many or none. The appearance of these symptoms does not mean you have three months or six months or any other specific amount of time remaining. It does mean that the balance of power
between your body's strength - even augmented by medical treatment - and the cancer's strength has changed. Cancer is getting the upper hand.
The symptoms outlined in this booklet should be discussed with your doctor. Ask blunt questions about your prognosis and about "palliative" treatments. Palliative treatment is treatment designed to maintain quality of life, minimize pain and keep you active as long as possible. Its primary focus is not curing the disease but maintaining good quality of life.
Talk frankly and openly to your doctor. It is the most important thing you can do. Be in touch with your body and check out anything new or different. Make a list of questions you want to ask as you think of them and take the list, no matter how long, to your doctor.
Try to have someone come with you when you talk to your doctor to help you ask questions and interpret answers. Take notes or tape-record the answers so you can review the information with family members or refresh your own memory.
Do not accept evasive answers. Do not accept answers that are too complex for you to understand. Repeat your questions until you understand the answer.