Read More >>
Prostate cancer is a serious health condition that affects millions of men each year. It most commonly occurs in those who are over 60 years old. But there are occasionally cases of it in men who are much younger than this.
Out of all of the kinds of cancer that can affect men today, this type has one of the highest survival rates since roughly 99% of all men are still alive after 15 years of them being diagnosed with it. However, it has to be treated as soon as possible to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body where it could cause further complications.
Treatment options depend on what stage of prostate cancer that a man has though. And they each have different side effects that are important to know about. Some of the most common treatment options that are recommended for this condition include:
Active surveillance of a man's prostate cancer means that a doctor will essentially take a wait-and-see approach to treating it. So, in other words, instead of rushing to perform any type of radical surgery or hand out a high-risk prescription, they simply monitor the cancer on a regular basis. Active surveillance is mostly used for men who have a life expectancy of less than five years because they have other medical conditions or their age is quite advanced. However, it may also be used for younger men who have prostate cancer that seems to be growing very slowly.
Waiting to rush into treatment for prostate cancer may seem like a bad idea to those who feel that fast action to rid the body of the condition is always best. But it is sometimes necessary to ensure that a man has a good quality of life for as long as possible. Unfortunately, many of the treatment options that are used for this condition cause erectile dysfunction and bladder and bowel incontinence. So the longer that they can be avoided, the better. It is important to mention that doctors can sometimes help men who suffer from erectile dysfunction after their cancer treatments with penile implants that will allow them to still have sexual relations with their partner. There are also medications that may help with this issue as well. But the bladder and bowel incontinence is often unavoidable.
There are two common types of radiation therapy that are used for treating prostate cancer. The first type is called external-beam radiation therapy. It is done by focusing a concentrated beam of x-rays over the affected area. To ensure that a man receives an even dose of radiation, special netting is often placed over the body to hold it in a specific position. The netting is then marked so that the person can't move out of place. External-beam radiation therapy may be done in low doses over a longer period of time or in high doses over a shorter period of time. It just depends on how advanced the cancer is and whether or not it has spread.
Brachytherapy is the second type of radiation therapy. It is done internally by inserting special radioactive seeds directly into the prostate. Low-dose radioactive seeds may need to be left in place permanently because they can take up to a year to be effective. High-dose seeds may be removed after just 30 minutes because if they are left in the body any longer than this, they could cause a person to develop other types of cancer from the intense radiation exposure.
A man's hormone level can have an influence on his prostate cancer too. So it is sometimes necessary for an oncologist to reduce the amount of hormones that he has in his body in order for the cancer to be treated. This is done with a special medication called androgen deprivation therapy. Since it can have serious consequences on a man's emotional and physical health, it is often used only if the prostate cancer has reached stage three or stage four. Even then, many doctors consider it too controversial because it is only effective if it is used for two or three years. And depriving a man of androgens for this long essentially feminizes his body unnecessarily.
If other treatment options have failed, doctors may need to perform a radical prostatectomy to surgically remove the seminal vesicles and prostate. This is no easy task because the prostate is positioned in a delicate region underneath the bladder and directly behind the penis. So it takes roughly five incisions into the abdomen to perform the surgery. Afterwards, a man may develop incontinence or have difficulty maintaining an erection because of the nerve damage that it does to the body. Having an orgasm may still be possible, but it will be more difficult than it was before the surgery. Because of this, a laparoscopic prostatectomy is more preferable because it is less invasive since it makes use of robotic instruments that are inserted into just one small incision in the abdomen.
It is also important to mention that doctors often use a combination of the above mentioned treatment options for prostate cancer. For example, after a prostatectomy is performed, a man may need to undergo radiation therapy to ensure that all of the cancer cells are destroyed. Hormone therapy is often used with surgery too, especially in stage four prostate cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes.
These are just some of the treatment options that are available for prostate cancer. There are many others that medical researchers are currently working on. So if you or someone that you know may be having any of the signs of this condition, be sure to talk to your doctor about which of them is right for you.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author. This content has not been paid for by any advertiser nor does WhipCancer.org recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. WhipCancer.org does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and information contained on this site is intended for informational purposes only. Please seek the advice of your physician or other professional healthcare provider with any questions you may have.