Prostate cancer is a cancer that originates in the prostate. Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer that is found in men. Usually prostate cancer grows slowly in the prostate gland and does not cause serious harm. However, in some cases there are types that are very aggressive and spreads quickly. Treatment is more successful when diagnosed early.
The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland that is responsible for producing the seminal fluid that will nourish and transport the sperm.
In the early stages of prostate cancer, you may not experience any signs or symptoms. It is not until later that you will begin to notice symptoms. Some of these symptoms are:
You will want to see your physician as soon as you see any symptoms that begin to worry you. If you feel better about it, ask your physician about prostate cancer screening and ask if this would be better for you.
There is no true cause for prostate cancer. Physicians do know that this begins when cells in the prostate become abnormal. These abnormal cells begin to grow and divide and do not die. They can form a tumor and can even grow into the nearby tissue.
There are four main risk factors that are associated with prostate cancer. The first is your age. The older you get, the higher your risk is for prostate cancer. Black men are also at a higher risk for prostate cancer. Their prostate cancer is also seen as more aggressive or advance. Men that are obese are likely to have prostate cancer that is very difficult to treat. If prostate cancer runs in your family, then your risk for prostate cancer may also be increased.
Erectile dysfunction can be a complication that is associated with prostate cancer itself, surgery, radiation, hormone treatments, or surgery. Those that have erectile dysfunction are offered treatment for this as well.
Prostate cancer and the treatment may often lead to urinary incontinence. If this is something that you are experiencing, then speak with your physician about treatments that may be available for you.
In people with prostate cancer, it is possible that the cancer may spread, or metastasize. Prostate cancer may spread to nearby organs and tissues, including your bladder, bones, or other organs. If the prostate spreads to other areas you may experience pain and broken bones. If prostate cancer has spread to other areas, it may still respond to treatment and you may have control of the cancer, but it is likely to not be completely cured.
There are two main prostate screening tests that your physician may recommend. The first test your physician may recommend is a digital rectal exam, also called a DRE. During this exam, the physician will insert a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to exam the prostate. The prostate is adjacent to the rectum. Your physician is checking for any abnormalities that may be present.
The other examination is a prostate-specific antigen, or a PSA test. This test occurs by taking a blood sample from your vein and the sample is analyzed for PSA.
.A combination of a digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen can aid in identifying prostate cancer at its earliest stages. If either or both of these tests detect an abnormality, then your physician may recommend further testing.
An ultrasound can be done through a small probe that is inserted into the rectum to evaluate the prostate. Your physician may also want to collect a sample of prostate tissue, which is done by using a thin needle that is inserted directly into the prostate. This sample is then analyzed in a lab to look at cancer cells.
Once a diagnosis is confirmed, your physician will want to see how aggressive the cancer is. This is done through taking a sample of the prostate. A pathologist will look to see how different the cancer cells are from the healthy cells. If this is higher, then it is evident that the cancer will spread more quickly.
The Gleason score is the most common way to evaluate the grade of these prostate cancer cells. The number two is assigned to the most nonaggressive cancer and the number ten is assigned to the most aggressive form of cancer. The most common numbers are from 6-10.
It is also important to know how far the cancer has spread. Once the diagnosis of prostate cancer has been confirmed, then your physician will want to see if the cancer has spread to other areas. You may be recommended for a PET scan, MRI, CT scan, ultrasound, or a bone scan.
Treatment will be dependent on many things, like how fast the cancer is growing, your health, and the side effects and benefits of the treatment. It is also important to know how the cancer has spread throughout the body.
In men that have a low-risk prostate cancer, your physician may not recommend treatment just yet. It is important that during this stage, that you continue with your follow up appointments and testing.
There are also surgeries to remove the prostate gland. This surgery is also called a radical prostatectomy and can be done in a few different ways. A robot-assisted surgery is done with help from your physician. This is more precise and in minimally invasive. Another type of surgery is done through an incision in your abdomen and the gland is removed.
Radiation therapy is done in an effort to kill off the cancer cells. It is delivered in two ways which include an external beam radiation or radiation that is placed inside your body (brachytherapy). External beam radiation is done while you lie on a table and the machine moves around the body. This is done five times a week for multiple weeks. Brachytherapy places rice-sized radioactive seeds in the prostate tissue. These deliver a low dose of radiation over a period of time.
In some cases, hormone therapy is used to stop the body from producing testosterone because the prostate cancer cells rely on testosterone to help it grow.
Cryosurgery is also known as freezing tissues to kill the cancer cells. This is done when small needles are inserted into the prostate using imaging guidance. A freezing gas is placed in the needles and freezes the surrounding tissues. This is done a second time to reheat the tissue. When the tissues are frozen and thawed, the cancer cells are killed.
If cancer has spread to other parts of the body, then your physician may recommend chemotherapy. This is a drug that kills the growing cells.
Immunotherapy, also known as biological therapy, aids the body in fighting cancer cells.
In order to reduce your risk of prostate cancer, you will need to change your lifestyle and become healthy. The first step is to choose a healthy diet. Reach for things that are seen to be healthier. It is important to shop on the perimeters of the grocery store. Many fresh items can provide you vitamins and nutrients so that you can be healthier. Healthy foods are going to be healthier for you than supplements.
Eating healthy is so important for your health but it is also important to exercise nearly every day of the week. This will help you maintain a healthy weight. If you are not comfortable with exercising, then you will want to start slow and just take light walks every night.
If you believe you are at a high risk for prostate cancer, speak with your physician about your options. In some cases, you may be recommended for a variety of medications.
Having support after a diagnosis with prostate cancer is so important. You may experience a variety of emotions and it is important to find someone that you are able to talk to about it. You may find comfort in talking to someone that you know, such as friends or family. In other cases, you may find someone who is going through the exact same thing more comforting.
We always recommend keeping a notebook. In this notebook, you can write all of your symptoms and questions. This is so helpful during your appointments because you will not forget anything you have been thinking about. During your appointment, you can also write down anything that your physician says so that you can review this later.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. The sooner it is able to be diagnosed, the better treatment will be. Speak with your physician about what you can do to prevent prostate cancer and if you have been diagnosed, what treatment is best for you.
For the benefit of our patients, Urology & Oncology Specialists PC is introducing the first Advanced Prostate Cancer Center of Excellence in Mobile, Alabama.
To request an appointment with Urology, call 251-343-9090. To request an appointment with Radiation Oncology, call 251-414-5665.