How does having penile cancer affect your emotional health?
For any man, dealing with cancer of the penis is a frightening prospect. Partially or completely removing the penis is often the most effective way to cure penile cancer, but for many men this cure seems worse than the disease.
It is natural for a man facing treatment for penile cancer to suffer mental distress, depression, and feelings of grief or despair. The better you can anticipate and prepare for these feelings in advance, the better your quality of life will be following treatment. You might want to ask your health care team for a referral to a counselor, who can help you sort through your feelings and adjust to your new body.
When treatment ends, you may find yourself overcome with many different emotions. This happens to a lot of people. You may have been going through so much during treatment that you could only focus on getting through each day. Now it might feel like a lot of other issues are catching up with you.
You may find yourself thinking about death and dying. Or maybe you're more aware of the effect the cancer has on your family, friends, and career. You may take a new look at your relationship with those around you. Unexpected issues may also cause concern. For instance, as you feel better and have fewer doctor visits, you will see your health care team less often and have more time on your hands. These changes can make some people anxious.
Almost everyone who has been through cancer can benefit from getting some type of support. You need people you can turn to for strength and comfort. Support can come in many forms: family, friends, cancer support groups, church or spiritual groups, online support communities, or one-on-one counselors. What's best for you depends on your situation and personality. Some people feel safe in peer-support groups or education groups. Others would rather talk in an informal setting, such as church. Others may feel more at ease talking one-on-one with a trusted friend or counselor. Whatever your source of strength or comfort, make sure you have a place to go with your concerns.
The cancer journey can feel very lonely. It is not necessary or good for you to try to deal with everything on your own. And your friends and family may feel shut out if you do not include them. Let them in, and let in anyone else who you feel may help. If you aren’t sure who can help, call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 and we can put you in touch with a group or resource that may work for you. You can also learn more in our booklet Distress in People With Cancer.
Last Medical Review: 12/06/2013
Last Revised: 01/09/2015