Prostate cancer is the third most common cause of death from cancer in men of all ages and is the most common cause of death from cancer in men over 75 years old. At an advanced age, the risks of surgery for prostate cancer or other more radical treatments may actually be worse than the disease. The main job of the prostate gland is to make seminal fluid, the milky substance that transports sperm.
The prostate gland is located directly beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. In most men, prostate cancer grows very slowly: most men will never know they have the condition. Detected in its early stages, prostate cancer can be effectively treated and cured.
Most prostate cancer symptoms, although associated with prostate cancer, are more likely to be connected to non-cancerous conditions. If you have one or more prostate cancer symptoms, you should see a qualified doctor as soon as possible. There are several symptoms to be aware of.
Weak or interrupted flow of urine and painful or burning urination can be symptoms to watch out for. Other symptoms might include unintentional weight loss and lethargy. One of the most common symptoms is the inability to urinate at all.
Another test usually used when prostate cancer symptoms are present is the digital rectal exam (DRE) performed by the doctor. 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 chest x-ray may be done to see if there’s a spread of cancer.
A prostate biopsy usually confirms the diagnosis. 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. The decision about whether to pursue a PSA test should be based on a discussion between you and your doctor.
Other medications used for hormonal therapy, with side effects, include androgen-blocking agents, which prevent testosterone from attaching to prostate cells. Whether radiation is as good as prostate removal is debatable and the decision about which to choose, if any, can be difficult. Anyone considering surgery should be aware of the benefits, risks and the extent of the procedure.
Prostate cancer that has spread (metastasized) may be treated conventionally with drugs to reduce testosterone levels, surgery to remove the testes, chemotherapy or nothing at all. Chemotherapy medications are often used to treat prostate cancers that are resistant to hormonal treatments. Surgery is usually only recommended after thorough evaluation and discussion of all available treatment options.
Side effects of chemotherapy drugs depend on which ones you’re taking and how often and how long they’re taken. Many men simply want the best treatment they can get but what’s important is picking the best treatment for you. In patients whose health makes the risk of surgery unacceptably high, radiation therapy is often the chosen conventional alternative.
Treatment options can vary based on the stage of the tumor. Recent improvements in surgical procedures have made complications occur less often. Hormone manipulation is mainly used as a treatment to relieve symptoms in men whose cancer has spread.
Urinary incontinence can be a possible complication of surgery. Surgery, radiation therapy, and hormonal therapy can interfere with libido on a temporary or permanent basis.
As new research comes out adjust your treatment options accordingly. Just about all men with prostate cancer survive at least five years after their diagnosis, 93% survive at least 10 years, and 67% survive more than 15 years. The one thing that you should not do however is rely on any information obtained from the Internet to make your final decision.