Many men, especially those later in life have made the decision with their doctors to simply watch and wait. Early prostate cancer is confined to the prostate gland itself; most of the patients with this type of cancer can live for years without any problems.
Cancer that grows in the prostate gland is called prostate cancer. About one man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, but only one man in 34 will die of the disease. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the U.S. At an advanced age, the risks of surgery for prostate cancer or other more radical treatments may actually be worse than the disease.
One symptom is a need to urinate frequently, especially at night. Weak or interrupted flow of urine and painful or burning urination can be symptoms to watch out for. There may be other symptoms not mentioned here.
One prostate cancer symptom is difficulty starting urination or holding back urine. Having one or more cancer symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer. Most prostate cancer symptoms, although associated with prostate cancer, are more likely to be connected to non-cancerous conditions.
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. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test measures the PSA enzyme in your blood for abnormalities. The decision about whether to pursue a PSA test should be based on a discussion between you and your doctor.
There are several potential downsides to PSA testing; for example a high PSA does not always mean a patient has prostate cancer. What is called a free PSA may help tell the difference between BPH (benign prostatic hypertrophy), an enlargement of the prostate gland, and prostate cancer. A bone scan can indicate whether the cancer has spread or not.
Surgery, called a radical prostatectomy, removes the entire prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissues. Since prostate tumors require testosterone to grow, reducing the testosterone level is used to prevent further growth and spread of the cancer. What you can do now is begin to understand what exactly your treatment options are and where you’re going to begin.
In the early stages, surgery and radiation may be used to remove or attempt to kill the cancer cells or shrink the tumor. Medications can have many side effects, including hot flashes and loss of sexual desire. Urinary incontinence can be a possible complication of surgery.
In patients whose health makes the risk of surgery unacceptably high, radiation therapy is often the chosen conventional alternative. Radiation therapy to the prostate gland is either external or internal, both of which use high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Whether radiation is as good as prostate removal is debatable and the decision about which to choose, if any, can be difficult.
Some drugs with numerous side effects are being used to treat advanced prostate cancer, blocking the production of testosterone, called chemical castration; it has the same result as surgical removal of the testes. Surgery, radiation, hormonal therapy and chemotherapy all have significant side effects; know fully what they are before you proceed.
Many men simply want the best treatment they can get but what’s important is picking the best treatment for you.
Other medications used for hormonal therapy, with side effects, include androgen-blocking agents, which prevent testosterone from attaching to prostate cells. Thoroughly discuss your treatment options and concerns with your doctor and other health professionals; it never hurts to get a second or even third opinion or more if necessary.
With the advent of PSA testing, most prostate cancers are now found before they cause any symptoms. 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.
The outcome of prostate cancer varies greatly; mostly because the disease is found in older men who may have a variety of other complicating diseases or conditions, such as cardiac or respiratory disease, or disabilities that immobilize or greatly decrease their activities.