A Brief Overview Of Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer is a disease caused by the mutation of cells in the prostate that begin to multiply at increasing rates. Prostate Cancer can develop at any age; although it is more common in older men and risks increase drastically with advancing age. In some men, the cancer can develop unnoticed and the men will die of other causes; though when done early, prostate cancer has a 90% cure rate. Therefore, it is crucial that men go into the doctor for annual screenings.

Signs / Symptoms

Men often do not know that they have prostate cancer until the later stages of the disease, unless they go in for regular screenings. This is due to prostate cancer, in the early stages, is asymptomatic (does not show symptoms). The first manifestations of the disease are often related to bladder obstruction, and are similar to the signs and symptoms seen in patients with BPH (see p. 18). Rectal obstruction can also occur, which causes problems with defecating during a bowel movement.

Later Stages of the disease often produce a variety of symptoms because at this point the cancer has often metastasized (spread) to another area of ​​the body such as the bones or lymph nodes. Signs and symptoms of the later stages of prostate cancer include:

Screening / Diagnosis

Screening and diagnosis is the same for both BPH and prostate cancer. Procedures include the following:

* Digital rectal examination (DRE): palpitation of the prostate gland via the anal canal may detect enlargement

* Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests: elevated levels of PSA in the blood may be an indication of cancer

* bone pain

* edema (swelling) of the lower extremities

* enlarged lymph nodes in the groin area, under the arms, or in the throat liver enlargement

* bone fractures

* mental confusion (seen in several cases in which the cancer has spread to the brain)

Transrectal ultrasonography (TRUS): ultrasound examination of the testicles, prostate, and kidneys may rule out other disease or confirm BPH or cancer.

Treatment

Treatment of prostate cancer varies depending on the stage of cancer, the effects of treatment, age, general health, and life expectancy of the individual. Men who are diagnosed and treated in the early stages of prostate cancer have a 90% chance of being completely cured of the disease.41 Although complete recovery is not as likely during the later stages of cancer, treatment can extend life expectancy, reduce tumor size , and reduce pain. Treatment options include both surgical and non-surgical procedures.

Surgical treatments

* Prostatectomy- the partial or complete removal of the prostate gland.

* Transurethral resection

* Cryotherapy- procedure in which the prostate gland is exposed to freezing temperatures. During the procedure, needles are inserted into the prostate gland through the area between the scrotum and anus. Once the needles are in place the needles produce freezing temperatures which destroy the prostate and all surrounding cancerous tissue. Note: Surgical treatment of prostate cancer can often result in a temporary loss of urinary control and / or sexual dysfunction. Medication can be prescribed by your doctor to help reduce these side effects.

Non-surgical treatments

* Radiation therapy- medical use of ionizing radiation to destroy the DNA of cancerous cells. Radiation is used to destroy or control the multiplication of malignant cells. Radiation is applied to the site of cancer (tumor, lymph nodes, etc.) and its surrounding tissue. This treatment is often used in conjunction with Hormone or Chemotherapy.

* Hormone therapy- Hormone therapy involves the administration of specific hormones, such as steroids, or drugs which inhibit the production or activity of other hormones involved in the development of the cancer. The agents used in hormone therapy are designed to alter gene expression of the cancerous cells, causing cell activity to cease, or by promoting cell death.

* Chemotherapy- Chemotherapy is the use of chemicals and antibiotics to kill cancer cells. Cancer is caused by the uncontrollable division of cells. The chemicals used during chemotherapy are designed to target rapidly-dividing cells, thus targeting the cancer cells and not other healthy cells of the body.

* Immunotherapy- Immunotherapy is a reliably new treatment that stimulates the body's own immune-system to kill off tumors.