Detected in its early stages, prostate cancer can be effectively treated and cured. In most men, prostate cancer grows very slowly; most men will never know they have the condition. Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor of the prostate gland.
The main job of the prostate gland is to make seminal fluid, the milky substance that transports sperm. It’s estimated that approximately 234,460 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, and approximately 27,350 will die of the disease. If you have prostate cancer, are concerned about getting it, or if you’re looking out for the health of someone you love, this article can help.
One symptom is difficulty starting urination or holding back urine. One symptom is a need to urinate frequently, especially at night. Blood in the urine or semen and frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs are often symptoms of cancer.
Most symptoms, although associated with prostate cancer, are more likely to be connected to non-cancerous conditions. Because symptoms can mimic other diseases or disorders, men who experience any of these symptoms should undergo a thorough work-up to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms. Having one or more cancer symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer.
One downside to PSA testing is that health care providers are detecting and treating some very early-stage prostate cancers that may never have caused the patient any harm. A number of tests may be done to confirm a diagnosis. A PSA test with a high level can also be from a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.
A urinalysis may indicate if there is blood in the urine. Another test usually used when prostate cancer symptoms are present is the digital rectal exam (DRE) performed by the doctor. A chest x-ray may be done to see if there’s a spread of cancer.
The conventional treatment of prostate cancer is often controversial. Surgery, radiation therapy, and hormonal therapy can interfere with libido on a temporary or permanent basis. Medications can have many side effects, including hot flashes and loss of sexual desire.
Be aware that some men choose natural treatment options and forgo any surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. Anyone considering surgery should be aware of the benefits, risks and the extent of the procedure. In patients whose health makes the risk of surgery unacceptably high, radiation therapy is often the chosen conventional alternative.
Surgery, called a radical prostatectomy, removes the entire prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissues. Surgery is usually only recommended after thorough evaluation and discussion of all available treatment options. Other medications used for hormonal therapy, with side effects, include androgen-blocking agents, which prevent testosterone from attaching to prostate cells.
Chemotherapy medications are often used to treat prostate cancers that are resistant to hormonal treatments. Whether radiation is as good as removing the prostate is debatable and the decision about which to choose, if any, can be difficult. Treatment options can vary based on the stage of the tumor.
If chemotherapy is decided upon after the first round of chemotherapy, most men receive further doses on an outpatient basis at a clinic or physician’s office. Besides hormonal drugs, hormone manipulation may also be done by surgically removing the testes.
If you haven’t been diagnosed but are concerned about symptoms you should call for an appointment to see your doctor; and if you’re a man older than 50 who has never been screened for prostate cancer (by rectal exam and/or PSA level determination) or not had a regular annual exam, or have had a family history of prostate cancer, make an appointment soon. It’s important to get as informed as possible and read all the newest books, ebooks and research available. Consider sites, such as this one, just a starting point where you can begin to learn about prostate cancer.