Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy in men and, except for lung cancer, is responsible for more deaths than any other cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimated that about one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Prostate cancer is a disease in which aggressive cancer cells form in the tissues of the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum.About the size of a walnut, the prostate gland produces seminal fluid.
Prognosis & Treatment
Treatment options and prognosis depend on the stage of the cancer, the age and overall health of the patient. Because of greater public awareness, early detection is on the rise and mortality rates are declining. Furthermore, new advances in medical technology are allowing patients a faster return to active and productive lives following their treatment.
When prostate cancer is diagnosed, there are generally five courses of action for treatment depending upon patient profile.
- Surgery to Remove Prostate Cancer
For a localized prostate tumor, the removal of the prostate gland is considered the definitive way to purge the disease.
An estimated 91% of cases diagnosed in the U.S. are localized, which means many men are potential candidates for cancer removal. Surgically removing the prostate allows the doctor to assess the nature the tumor is and whether or not it has spread. With any cancer treatment, the first priority is survival. Several studies suggest there is a greater chance of long-term survival for patients undergoing surgery over all other potential treatments.
The studies illustrated that patients undergoing radical prostatectomy had a 40% lower risk of death from the cancer than radiation patients.
Therapy This type of therapy uses high-energy x-rays beamed from a machine or emitted by radioactive elements implanted in the prostate. External beam radiation therapy is also commonly used to treat men with a regional disease, whose cancers cannot be removed surgically. In men with advanced disease, radiation therapy can help reduce tumor size and relieve pain. Radiation therapy can have some unwanted side effects including erectile dysfunction as well as long-term nerve damage.
Cryosurgery utilizes liquid nitrogen to kill the cancer cells. During cryotherapy the doctor places needles in preselected locations in the prostate gland allowing the liquid nitrogen to form an ice ball that freezes the prostate cancer cells. The cells are obliterated once they thaw and expand. The procedure takes about two hours, requires anesthesia as well as a two day hospital stay.
- Hormonal Therapy
Hormonal therapy combats prostate cancer by cutting off the supply of testosterone to discourage cancer growth. Hormonal control can be achieved by surgically removing the testicles or through the aggressive use of pharmaceuticals.This course of treatment targets cancer that has spread and grown beyond the reach of localized treatments such as surgery or radiation protocols. Hormonal therapy is also helpful in alleviating the painful and distressing symptoms of advanced disease. Although hormone therapy is not a cure, it will halt the advance of disease sometimes for years.
- Experimental / Out-of-Country Treatments
When faced with serious illness and little answers from conventional forms medicine, many patients seek out alternative or experimental treatment options. Currently available outside the United States is a treatment option known as HIFU or High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound. The applications for prostate cancer treatment include delivering energy using a trans-rectal probe under anesthesia. This type of treatment is experimental and has had varying levels of success in treating prostate cancer.