You may have just been diagnosed with prostate cancer and don’t know what to do; the first thing to do is not to panic. 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. The prostate is a small, walnut-sized structure that makes up part of a man’s reproductive system; it wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body.
The prostate gland is located directly beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. 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 the cancer will grow and spread rapidly and the size and extent of the tumor will determine its stage.
The male hormone testosterone contributes to the growth of cancer. Blood in the urine or semen and frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs are often symptoms of cancer. Weak or interrupted flow of urine and painful or burning urination can be symptoms to watch out for. One prostate cancer symptom is difficulty starting urination or holding back urine.
If cancer is caught at its earliest stages, most men will not experience any symptoms. One symptom is a need to urinate frequently, especially at night. There may be other symptoms not mentioned here.
Your doctor may use either one or two of the most common tests for prostate cancer detection. A number of tests may be done to confirm a diagnosis of prostate cancer. A prostate biopsy usually confirms the diagnosis.
Another test usually used when prostate cancer symptoms are present is the digital rectal exam (DRE) performed by the doctor. When a digital rectal exam is performed it often reveals an enlarged prostate with a hard, irregular surface. Urine or prostatic fluid cytology may reveal unusual cells.
The conventional treatment of prostate cancer is often controversial. Impotence is a potential complication after the prostatectomy or after radiation therapy. 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.
An oncology specialist will usually recommend treating with a single drug or a combination of drugs. Surgery, called a radical prostatectomy, removes the entire prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissues. Chemotherapy medications are often used to treat prostate cancers that are resistant to hormonal treatments.
What you can do now is begin to understand what exactly your treatment options are and where you’re going to begin. Treatment options can vary based on the stage of the tumor. 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. Anyone considering surgery should be aware of the benefits, risks and the extent of the procedure. In the early stages, surgery and radiation may be used to remove or attempt to kill the cancer cells or shrink the tumor.
Besides hormonal drugs, hormone manipulation may also be done by surgically removing the testes. 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.
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. With the advent of PSA testing, most prostate cancers are now found before they cause any symptoms. If you’ve already been diagnosed with prostate cancer, pick the option that’s best suited to you and your continuing good health.