The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. Cancer that grows in the prostate gland is called prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the U.S.
Men, who are younger than 40, are rarely ever diagnosed with prostate cancer. Men have traditionally been less likely to seek medical attention than women, especially for minor problems, which often serve as warning signs for more serious underlying illness. The most common cancer in American men, excluding skin cancer, is prostate cancer.
If cancer is caught in its earliest stages, most men will not experience any symptoms. One of the most common symptoms is the inability to urinate. And having one or more cancer symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer.
There are a number of symptoms to be aware of. One symptom is the need to urinate frequently, especially at night. And if you have one or more prostate cancer symptoms, you should see a qualified doctor as soon as possible.
A chest x-ray may be done to see if there is a spread of cancer. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test measures the PSA enzyme in your blood for abnormalities. The decision about whether to pursue a PSA test should be based on a discussion between you and your doctor.
A prostate biopsy usually confirms the diagnosis. A PSA test with a high level can also be from a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. CT scans may be done to see if the cancer has spread.
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. Whether radiation is as good as removing the prostate is debatable and the decision about which to choose, if any, can be difficult. Since prostate tumors require testosterone to grow, reducing the testosterone level is used to prevent further growth and spread of the cancer.
Surgery, called a radical prostatectomy, removes the entire prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissues. The conventional treatment of prostate cancer is often controversial. Surgery, radiation, hormonal therapy and chemotherapy all have significant side effects; know fully what they are before you proceed with any treatment.
Hormone manipulation is mainly used as a treatment to relieve symptoms in men whose cancer has spread. Surgery, radiation therapy, and hormonal therapy can interfere with libido on a temporary or permanent basis. Treatment options can vary based on the stage of the tumor.
In patients whose health makes the risk of surgery unacceptably high, radiation therapy is often the chosen conventional alternative. Some drugs with numerous side effects are being used to treat advanced prostate cancer, blocking the production of testosterone, called chemical castration; it has the same result as surgical removal of the testes. Other medications used for hormonal therapy, with side effects, include androgen-blocking agents, which prevent testosterone from attaching to prostate cells.
Radiation therapy is used primarily to treat prostate cancers classified as stages A, B, or C. In the early stages, surgery and radiation may be used to remove or attempt to kill the cancer cells or shrink the tumor.
In the end, only you with the help of your doctors, knowing your individual situation, can know the best treatment program for you. Once diagnosed you may want to join a support group where you can share experiences and problems with others. It’s important to get as informed as much as possible and read all the newest books, ebooks and research available.