Harvard Perspectives on Prostate Disease

Prostate cancer and relationships: The partner's story

As with any disease, when prostate cancer strikes, its reach goes beyond the patient. Entire families feel the impact. But because treatment for prostate cancer can affect continence and sexual functioning, it can hit at the core of romantic, intimate relationships.

"Some men select treatment based on how it will affect their sexual function," says Frank McCaffrey, LICSW, OSW-C, a senior clinical social worker with the Oncology Service at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, who routinely meets with prostate cancer patients before and after treatment. "But other men just want the cancer out and say that they'll worry about all of the other problems later on. Later, they may regret that they didn't do more research initially."

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