Prostate Cancer’s Impact on Couples: How to deal with both the physical and emotional effects

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago comments on excerpt from Yes You Can: Dr. Barb’s Recipe for Lifelong Intimacy, posted January 19, 2016 by Barb DePree, M.D

Dr. Barb DePree shares that “prostate cancer is often called the ‘couples disease’ because of its broad-reaching effects in the bedroom – and elsewhere.”  Apart from worry about the cancer itself, potential side effects from surgery or other prostate cancer treatments can affect a man’s sexual function and emotional wellbeing.  DePree recommends education, exploration and experimentation as steps for couples needing a new beginning to sex after prostate cancer.

However, initial communication is essential for understanding the stress that prostate cancer may cause both patient and partner.  By learning together about prostate cancer and discovering ways to maintain sexual intimacy, couples can keep an emotional connection and help a man maintain his sense of masculinity despite physical changes.   Dr. DePree acknowledges the challenges faced by spouses adjusting to not only her partner’s health but also her own age-related health changes and family demands.

At Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago (PCFC), we invite spouses, partners and caregivers to benefit from our Patient Support Group.  The opportunity for both partners to learn firsthand about prostate cancer treatment options and research can help couples cope with the seeming deluge of information after a prostate cancer diagnosis while gaining insight from other patients and couples.  Visit for Patient Support Group details & schedule, and to learn other ways the non-profit PCFC educates patients and the public on prostate cancer.

Also, PCFC works hand-in-hand with Chicago Prostate Cancer Center (CPCC) on research to advance best practices in brachytherapy, the least disruptive option for many men seeking to remain productive during prostate cancer treatment.  Multiple research institutions, comparing prostate cancer treatments, demonstrate outcomes with single-day seed implant therapy are consistent with equal-to-better cancer eradication and fewer urinary, bowel, and erectile side effects common to external beam radiation—requiring as many as 9 weeks of daily outpatient sessions, or with prostatectomy—-a major surgery necessitating inpatient hospitalization and typical 3-6 week recovery.  More information on CPCC is available at

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