Prostate Cancer And How It’s Treated
One of the major cancer concerns men will face is prostate cancer. Specifically, this cancer is found in the gland known as the prostate. The prostate gland is located near the bladder and is the size of a walnut. It produces seminal fluid and carries the semen. This cancer affects more than three million people in the United States and according to the
Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, one in seven men will be diagnosed with this disease. Knowing the first signs of prostate cancer, the fundamentals of determining its presence and what can be done to treat it are some of the basics in addressing this disease. Catching any cancer early is essential and that is no different for prostate cancer. In the early stages, it is easy to treat. Initially, symptoms are insignificant, but as it advances, signs begin developing. These symptoms can include difficulty urinating such as the flow being reduced. Blood showing up in the semen, difficulty maintaining or achieving an erection, bone pain and pelvic tenderness are further symptoms or signs of advancing prostate cancer.
Prognosis Prostate Cancer
At first signs of the previously mentioned symptoms, it is recommended that a person see their doctor. There are two standard screening tests, the digital rectal exam and prostate antigen test through a blood test. Diagnosing cancer is done through an ultrasound, MRI and a biopsy of the gland itself. According to the Mayo Clinic, the best method is a collaboration of these three options. Once the disease presence is determined the next course of action is to determine treatment.
There are many methods to treat this disease and in some cases, no treatment immediately is necessary. In other situations, surgery is needed immediately. Robots are frequently used for surgery due to their precision when making the incision in the abdomen. This procedure of removing the entire prostate gland and surrounding lymph nodes is not without risks. Permanent urinary complications and erectile dysfunction are common problems with the surgery. Surgery does not always guarantee that every cancer cell has been removed.
Radiation is the next option that has the purpose of killing the cancerous cells. It is provided through two means. Externally through a high powered beam aimed at the site of the prostate or internally through a device the size of a grain of rice placed near the gland location. This is called brachytherapy. This last method provides a low dose of radiation on a slow-release. As with most treatments, there are side effects that include erectile dysfunction, diarrhea, and urinary pain.
Another method of treatment is hormone therapy. This treatment causes a person’s body to stop producing testosterone. Stopping the production of testosterone inhibits the feeding and supplements to the cancer cells, which results in their death. There are medications designed to stop the production of testosterone as well as surgery to remove the entire testes. Some newer medications can stop the hormone from reaching the cancer cells.
Cryosurgery is a form of surgery that freezes the tissue to kill the cancerous cells. This is an ultrasound-guided surgery where needles are properly placed and gasses are supplied to go directly to the site. Then, they freeze the tissue and reverse it to “thaw” it back to the proper temperature. This is a procedure that is becoming more commonly used.
Chemotherapy is used most commonly to treat cancers that have spread from their original site. it is provided through veins in IV form or as a pill. These are strong medications that will kill most cancer cells and are cancer-specific.
Immunotherapy uses the person’s own body to kill the cancerous cells. The person’s immune system is boosted by taking some of their own cells and genetically engineering them in a lab, then placing them back into their body to fight the cancer cells. According to the Mayo Clinic, this is used frequently in advanced and recurring cancer.
According to most sources, there are no effective alternative therapies that work for treatment. However, there is a belief that they do help when used to support traditional treatment. Many find that the use of music, art, prayer, and conversation helps with the coping of facing the disease treatment. Effectively treating this disease is based initially on early discovery, so it is recommended to see your doctor on a prescribed basis due to a person’s likeliness to contract prostate cancer.