Prostate Cancer What is It?
Prostate cancer is a disease wherein cancer affects a male reproductive gland. In order to understand prostate cancer better, it is necessary to look into the prostate and its functions.
The prostate is a gland located under the bladder and in front of the rectum. About the size of a walnut, the prostate is about 3 centimeters long and weighs about 20 grams. The prostate helps make seminal fluid and stores it as well.
The urethra, or the tube which carries semen and urine, goes through the prostate. As a result, prostate cancer usually has effects on bodily functions such as urination, ejaculation, and defecation.
As men grow older, the prostate may pose some problems, one of the prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, if you do not count skin cancer, prostate cancer is the leading type of cancer in men.
Worse, prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men as well.
Prostate cancer information at present is limited to possible causes. As of now, researchers cannot identify the exact cause of prostate cancer.
All they know right now is that somehow, inherited DNA changes increase the risk of prostate cancer. Researchers have provided some risk factors for prostate cancer and are still trying to figure out what causes the cells to mutate.
Prostate cancer may affect any man, but those aged 50 and older are at considerable risk. African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer are also considered to be at risk for prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer occurs more in North America and northwestern Europe than in other parts of the world. There are some signs that point to a genetic factor in prostate cancer although there is no conclusive evidence yet.
Diet may also increase the risk of prostate cancer. Some studies show that men over 65 years old have a lower rate of prostate cancer, provided they exercise a lot. Another possible risk for prostate cancer is for men who have had a vasectomy.
Prostate cancer develops when the cells of the prostate mutate into cancer cells. In prostate cancer, the outer parts of the prostate are the first to be affected.
Prostate cancer in the early stages does not usually exhibit symptoms. Complications arise when prostate cancer spreads to other nearby body parts. Prostate cancer may also spread to the lymph nodes and bones.
Early detection is vital to the treatment of prostate cancer. This increases the chances of surviving prostate cancer. Statistics show that for prostate cancer cases which are treated while in the local and regional stages (limited to the prostate and surrounding areas), the 5-year relative survival rate is almost 100%.
Fortunately, advances in the medical field allow early prostate cancer detection.
Prostate Cancer Vegan Diet
Your Vegan diet may help avoid prostate cancer. The focus is more fruits and vegetables and less red meat. The risk of prostate cancer may be lowered by taking vitamins and minerals. Some medication may also help avoid prostate cancer.
Current prostate cancer information from studies is insufficient to provide any solid link to prostate cancer. There is abundant prostate cancer information available. The Prostate Cancer Foundation provides prostate cancer information on their website.
Prostate cancer information regarding detection and screening as well as treatments and side effects are well documented. Recent studies provide more prostate cancer information regarding prevention.
The prostate cancer information on staging is also well presented by the American Cancer Society.
For more specific prostate cancer information, you can consult your doctor. He will be able to give you prostate cancer information details suited to your case.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms in Men
Some men diagnosed with cancer of the prostate will have no obvious signs or symptoms. This may be because they have had a raised PSA blood test as part of a well-man check up and then been investigated.
Early stage prostate cancers that are completely within the prostate gland will not cause any symptoms at all since they will not be painful or affect the flow of the urine.
Prostate Cancer Early Symptoms
The problem with trying to diagnose prostate cancer first symptoms is that the symptoms of early prostate cancer are similar to those caused by benign (non-cancerous) prostate enlargement known as Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy or BPH.
In fact, BPH often causes more symptoms than prostate cancer and is very common in men as they get older. Many men diagnosed with prostate cancer will also have BPH. However many men who have BPH will not have prostate cancer at all.
These early-stage prostate cancer symptoms are mainly due to obstruction of the flow of urine. As the prostate enlarges it narrows the tube running from the bladder which carries urine out of the body. This can make it difficult to pee normally.
1. Hesitancy – difficulty with starting to pee
2. Weak Stream – the stream or flow of urine is not as fast and hard as it used to be
3. Straining – you need to push the urine out
4. Prolonged Urination – it takes you longer to pee even small amounts
5. Feeling of Incomplete Emptying – the bladder still feels like there is some urine left in it after you have just emptied it.
6. Urinary Retention – the inability to empty the bladder at all
Other Symptoms are due to irritation of the bladder by the enlarged prostate. Again these symptoms are the same for BPH as they are for prostate cancer.
1. Urgency – when you need to go, you need to go now, it’s difficult to hold on
2. Frequency – you need to pee more often
3. Nocturia – you need to get up in the night to pee
4. Urge Incontinence – where you suddenly need to pee and can’t hold on so you have an accident if you can’t get to a toilet in time
If you have any of these symptoms it is worth going to see your GP to talk about them. Firstly there are many treatments that can help with the symptoms plus the doctor can check that they are due to BPH and not to prostate cancer which could need urgent treatment. If you have these symptoms the doctor may want you to have a PSA blood test or a DRE.
Prostate Cancer Treatment Stages
Cancers, in general, can be categorized into 4 stages depending on the degree to which they have grown and spread around the body. In short and with reference to prostate cancer:
• T1 stage – this is the earliest stage. The cancer is often not visible i.e. it doesn’t cause any enlargement of the prostate and there are no symptoms felt.
• T2 stage – the cancer is still in the early stages however by now it is large enough to be felt during a digital examination. Often the prostate cancer still doesn’t cause symptoms.
• T3 stage – here cancer has started to spread into the surrounding tissues (localized metastases). It is only now that the first signs and symptoms of prostate cancer are felt.
• T4 stage – by this final stage it is very likely that the prostate cancer has spread to distant sites meaning that symptoms may be felt in the areas that have become affected.
Therefore, although we may think of bladder discomfort as an early prostate cancer symptom, it is actually indicative of late stage 2 or early stage 3 cancer where the survival rate rapidly begins to decline.
Thus if any of the following symptoms are present for more than a few days, they should be reported to the doctor, even if it is only to rule out the possibility of them being prostate cancer-related.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
When a patient is first diagnosed with prostate cancer and has had all the relevant tests to check the extent of the disease he will normally have an appointment with his doctor to discuss what is best for his individual circumstances.
The prescribed prostate cancer treatment will depend on the extent of cancer and on the intent of the treatment. For example, early prostate cancers will be treated with surgery, radiotherapy or watchful waiting.
Prostate cancer surgery is a definite possibility for many men in the early stages of the disease and so the subject should be discussed with the doctor.
Late prostate cancers will be treated with hormone therapy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or a mixture of all 3. Often patients will be given a choice of treatments by the doctor and the pros and cons of each option explained.
There is no best cancer of prostate treatment because the treatment you receive will depend on the extent of your cancer.
Prostate Cancer Treatment Radiotherapy
Many men undergo radiotherapy as it is often regarded as the best prostate cancer treatment. This may be with the aim to cure cancer or to shrink and control it depending on the stage.
Often hormone treatment is given prior to radiation treatment to help reduce the size of cancer and improve the rate of cure. Most small cancers do not normally need this hormone pre-treatment.
Types of Prostate Cancer Radiotherapy
Radiotherapy is the treatment for cancer of the prostate with radiation. This is most often as X-rays which pass through the body and kill the cancer cells in its path known as “external beam radiotherapy”.
The alternative way to treat the prostate is from within the body using small radioactive sources known as “brachytherapy”.
Brachytherapy is only suitable for a small proportion of men with early prostate cancer and with a suitable sized prostate gland. It has the advantage of slightly fewer side effects during the treatment but would not be so effective at curing more bulky prostate cancers.
1. External Beam Radiotherapy for Prostate Cancer
The majority of men with cancer of the prostate will have this type of radiation treatment. It is given by a machine called a Linear Accelerator. This makes high energy X-rays which are good at killing cancer cells.
Linear accelerators are worked by radiographers who will also help you get into the right position for your treatment and give you advice during your treatment.
For the treatment, the patient has to lie on a thin couch, rather like those used in the CT or MRI scanners. The machine then moves around the patient to deliver X-rays from several different angles, all pointing towards the prostate gland.
Each treatment takes approximately 10 minutes to give, and the full dose of treatment is spread out to be given every day over a few weeks. This helps to give a big enough dose to the prostate to kill cancer whilst reducing the side effects of treatment.
To make sure you are in the correct position and the prostate is being treated properly either an X-ray picture or more usually an extra CT scan will be taken before treatment starts to locate the prostate gland accurately.
At this time you will also be given several tattoos (tiny dots on the skin) so that when you lie on the couch for each treatment the radiographers can make sure you are lined up properly. This helps to make sure the prostate gland is treated fully and to reduce side effects.
Patients are not able to feel X-rays or even be aware that the treatment machine is on. However, as patients go through the weeks of treatment there are a number of common side effects that can be expected.
Most of these are short term side effects which slowly build up through the treatment, are worst at or just after the end of treatment and then improve quite quickly (within a few weeks). There are also some long-term or late side effects which can occur.
What are the Side Effects of Radiation Treatment for Prostate Cancer?
Despite the precautions taken to give the radiotherapy as accurately as possible, there will always be some side effects associated with radiotherapy to the prostate gland even with “best treatment”.
This is partly because to reach the prostate gland from the outside the X-rays have to pass through normal tissues (bladder, bowel, skin) and partly because an area around the prostate gland needs to be treated in case the prostate is in a slightly different position each day (e.g. because the bladder if filled to a different extent) and because it can treat any cancer cells which are trying to invade out of the prostate gland itself.
Early Side Effects
a. Tiredness and Fatigue – most patients receiving radiotherapy will feel tired especially towards the end of treatment.
b. Skin reaction – this is usually very mild with prostate cancer treatment and may be a slight pinking of the skin or sometimes a sore back passage
c. Diarrhea – the x-rays will have to pass through some of your bowels to reach the prostate gland and this can irritate the bowel and cause diarrhea, it can usually be well controlled by medication
d. Cystitis – a burning feeling when you pass water is due to irritation of the bladder by the X-rays on their way to the prostate gland
e. Piles – these can often flare up during treatment
f. Loss of Hair – you may lose some of your pubic hair where the x-rays pass through the skin but this normally grows back after treatment finishes, the hair on your head will not be affected
g. Impotence – radiotherapy may make it difficult for you to have or maintain an erection
Late Side Effects
In a small number of patients, permanent damage to bowel or bladder may occur and can sometimes require treatment. In some men, the impotence fails to recover.
While there are forms of alternative prostate cancer treatment, the above are considered to be the proven techniques and procedures.
There is a variety of prostate cancer treatment options available today. As most of the prostate cancer treatments can have significant side effects, you have to analyze which prostate cancer treatment best suits you.
Many prostate cancer treatments have been proven effective to a certain degree. However, some prostate cancer treatments may carry with them risks and side effects.
You also ought to beware of internet websites offering “effective” alternative prostate cancer treatments. These prostate cancer treatments may do you more harm than good.
Prostate cancer treatment comes in various forms and different prostate cancer treatments are recommended for different cases.
If the cancer is localized inside the prostate, then prostate cancer radiation treatment is usually employed. Possible side effects of radiation therapy are incontinence and extreme fatigue.
Another prostate cancer treatment option is called radical prostatectomy. It is a surgical procedure and may actually be the best prostate cancer treatment for some.
The side effects of prostatectomy are relatively low, as long as the surgeon does not damage surrounding nerves and tissue.
Cryosurgery is a surgical new prostate cancer treatment.
During the process, cancer cells are frozen until they die. This method of prostate cancer treatment has lower reports of side effects as compared to other prostate cancer treatments.
Prostate cancer treatment using hormone therapy aims to lower androgen levels. The reason behind this is that androgen assists in the growth of the tumor.
This therapy is usually recommended for advanced prostate cancer treatment. If hormone therapy does not work, the next step for advanced prostate cancer treatment is to discontinue taking medication such as Eulexin/Casodex/Nilandron.
Treatment & Therapy
Recent studies show that proton therapy is an effective new prostate cancer treatment. This prostate cancer treatment is non-invasive and shows a high percentage of disease-free survival rates.
Proton beam therapy is available in the UK and the US. One of the latest treatments for prostate cancer involves stimulating the immune system.
In immunological therapy, the goal is to make the body’s white blood cells attack the cancer cells. Aside from prostate cancer treatment, this method has the potential of developing a vaccine for prostate cancer.
Gene therapy is another of the latest treatments for prostate cancer. This aims to affect the metabolism of cancer cells and eventually kill them. These prostate cancer treatments are not yet fully developed, however.
Prostate cancer and natural treatments are largely based on non-chemical and non-surgical methods. Watchful waiting is the term for actually not getting any prostate cancer treatment.
Instead, you frequently see your doctor to monitor the growth of the tumor. If the tumor grows, then you start other prostate cancer treatments.
Other natural treatments for prostate cancer include vitamins and herbs that inhibit tumor growth as well as other factors such as androgen levels. Herbal therapies and other alternative prostate cancer treatments are not always reliable. Before starting any form of therapy, consult your doctor.
Bear in mind, there really is no answer as to what is the best prostate cancer treatment. Before deciding on a specific prostate cancer treatment, it is advisable to consult with a team of doctors.
A urologist would deal with surgical prostate cancer treatment, while oncologists would discuss radiation prostate cancer treatment as well as medication-based prostate cancer treatment options.
Consult all your doctors thoroughly in order to come up with the most comprehensive prostate cancer treatment program specifically suited to your case.