By Dr. Judy Illes
In most men, prostate cancer grows very slowly and most men will never know they have the condition.
Prostate cancer can be deadly but can be cured if it’s caught early enough or it may take a lifetime to run its course.
At an advanced age, the risks of surgery for prostate cancer or other more radical treatments may actually be worse than the disease.
What is a Cancer Tumor and How Do I Know if I Have One?
Men have traditionally been less likely to seek medical attention than women, especially for minor problems which often serve as warning signs for more serious underlying illness. Prostate cancer is characterized by ‘grade’ and ‘stage’; grade is given to indicate how quickly a cancer is growing – the higher the grade, the more likely it is that cancer will grow and spread rapidly and the size and extent of the tumor will determine its stage.
Most prostate cancer symptoms, although associated with prostate cancer, are more likely to be connected to non-cancerous conditions. There may be other symptoms not mentioned here. There are several symptoms you should be aware of.
Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease are bone pain or tenderness, and abdominal pain. Blood in the urine or semen and frequent pain in the lower back are often symptoms of cancer.
How Many Cases of Prostate Cancer Are There a Year?
Unfortunately, millions of cases affecting men are not diagnosed until they visit their doctors for a routine physical exam. The reason is that symptoms related to the disease are not noticeable during the beginning stages. As a result, there is little motivation to visit the doctor. Once a doctor suspects that a patient may have prostate cancer, he or she may suggest a number of different tests diagnose the condition.
A rectal exam is normally performed first; the doctor will insert a gloved finger into the patient’s rectum to identify irregularities in the shape or size of the gland. A prostate-specific antigen test (or, PSA test) involves studying the patient’s blood for the presence of PSAs.
A doctor may also suggest a transrectal ultrasound. A small device is inserted into the patient’s rectum and uses sound waves in order to build a picture of the gland. Finally, a biopsy is performed if the doctor is reasonably sure that the disease is present.
Ok, How Exactly Do I Get Rid of Prostate Cancer Tumors?
In general, the treatment options very much depend on whether the cancer cells have actually spread or not. If the tumor is still inside the prostate gland, then a radiation therapy or a surgery called radical prostatectomy is the common treatment options.
There are two types of radiation therapy, the first is external beam and the second is a radioactive pellet. External beam is performed by using an x-ray machine while radioactive pellet uses a high concentration of radiation directly to the prostate tumor.
The most common side effect of this therapy is impotency that can happen around two years after the patient undergoes the procedure.
Radical prostatectomy is a common surgery to treat prostate cancer.
The goal of the procedure is to remove the whole prostate gland and the nearby lymph nodes. Patients who undergo this surgery are put under general anesthesia. Then after the prostate is removed, a catheter is put in through the penis into the bladder to carry the urine out of the body until the surgery area is completely healed. The common risks related to the surgery are impotency and lack of bladder control.
Watchful waiting is another option of treatments and basically, it involves a doctor that supervises the development of a slow-growing prostate tumor. The procedure is conducted without any specific drug or treatment, but only uses regular medical supervision. In this case, the doctor waits for the tumor to grow by checking the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level regularly. If the doctor does not see any further growth, then further treatment is not needed. However, if it does grow, then hormone therapy usually is the next step.
How Can I Prevent Prostate Cancer in the First Place?
The androgen male hormone is one of the factors responsible for the growth of the prostate tumor. Therefore, the goal of a hormone therapy is to reduce the level of androgen and thus make the tumor to shrink over time. You should always remember that all prostate cancer treatments discussed here have pros and cons. It is important for you to understand each of them so you can receive the most suitable treatment for your particular condition. You should consult with your doctor before you select any of these treatments.