Prostate cancer is a common type of cancer in males, but it is highly treatable in the early stages. It begins in the prostate gland, which sits between the penis and the bladder.
Prostate cancer commonly affects males in the United States. In fact, in 2019, the American Cancer Society (ACS) predict that there will be around 174,650 new diagnoses of prostate cancer and around 31,620 deaths from this type of cancer. Around 1 in 9 males will receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer at some point in their life. However, only 1 in 41 of these will die as a result of it. Treatment is effective, especially in the early stages. Routine screening enables doctors to detect many cases of prostate cancer before they spread. The symptoms of prostate cancer are given below.
Treatment for prostate is very effective in the early stages. However, there are often no symptoms during the early stages of prostate cancer, but screening can detect changes that can indicate cancer. Screening involves a test that measures levels of PSA in the blood. High levels suggest that cancer may be present. Symptoms may include:
- difficulty starting and maintaining urination
- a frequent urge to urinate, especially at night
- blood in the urine or semen
- painful urination
- in some cases, pain on ejaculation
- difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection
- Pain or discomfort when sitting, if the prostate is enlarged
Advanced prostate cancer can involve the following symptoms:
- bone fracture or bone pain, especially in the hips, thighs, or shoulders
- edema, or swelling in the legs or feet
- weight loss
- changes in bowel habits
- back pain
Treatment will depend on the stage of cancer, among other factors.In the sections below, we list some treatments for both the early and the advanced stages. Early-stage prostate cancer:
A prostatectomy is one possible treatment for early-stage prostate cancer. If the cancer is small and localized, a doctor may recommend, Watchful waiting or monitoring.
The doctor may check PSA blood levels regularly but take no immediate action. Prostate cancer grows slowly, and the risk of side effects may outweigh the need for immediate treatment.
Surgery: A surgeon may carry out a prostatectomy. They can remove the prostate gland using either laparoscopic or open surgery.
Radiation therapy: Options include Brachytherapy: A doctor will implant radioactive seeds into the prostate to deliver targeted radiation treatment.
Conformal radiation therapy: This targets a specific area, minimizing the risk to healthy tissue. Another type, called intensity-modulated radiation therapy, uses beams with variable intensity.
Note that treatment will depend on various factors. A doctor will discuss the best option for the individual.
Advanced prostate cancer
As cancer grows, it can spread throughout the body. If it spreads, or if it comes back after remission, the treatment options will change. Options include:
Chemotherapy: This can kill cancer cells around the body, but it can cause adverse effects.
Hormonal therapy: Androgens are male hormones, the main androgens are testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. Blocking or reducing these hormones appears to stop or delay the growth of cancer cells. One option is to undergo surgery to remove the testicles, which produce most of the body’s hormones. Various drugs can also help.
Most doctors do not recommend surgery in the later stages, as it does not treat cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. However, some experts have suggested that it may help in some cases.
Most importantly, some newer approaches aim to treat prostate cancer without the side effects that other treatment options can bring. These include:
- high intensity focused ultrasound.
After surgery, a doctor will continue to monitor PSA levels.
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