Prostate Cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in males but the good news is that in the US, the outlook for men diagnosed with prostate cancer is better than ever. Because most prostate cancers are found early, while the tumor is still localized, the five-year survival rate is over than 90% if they are treated appropriately.
Types of Prostate Cancer
The majority of prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas. This prostate cancer that develops from gland cells that create the prostate fluid, which is added to the semen.
There are 4 other types of prostate cancer, but these are very rare:
- Small cell carcinomas
- Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs)
- Transitional cell carcinomas
Some of these cancers grow quickly, but most grow slowly.
Facts about Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America.
In fact, in the United States, 1 out of every 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
Considering the rates of diagnosis, a patient’s age is the main, but not only, risk factor for prostate cancer. Some others are:
- Family history
- Genetic factors
- Dietary habits
For men with a relative that has or has had prostate cancer, they are two times as likely to get the disease. For me with two or more relatives, that increases to four times as likely.
Also important to note is that men with African- descent are 76% more likely to develop prostate cancer compared with white men, and more than twice as likely to die from the disease.
Treating Prostate Cancer – Treatment Options.
Prostate cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the prostate, a small pelvic gland which sits between the bladder and the rectum. The treatment that will work best for your prostate cancer depends on various factors such as: your overall health status, your age, the grade and stage of the prostate cancer when it is first diagnosed.
It is essential for you to take the time to research your treatment options, ask questions and weigh the benefits of each treatment against its potential risk of complications and side effects, as well as its proven track record.
The most common proven treatment options for prostate cancer are: surgery (radical prostatectomy Conventional or robotic), radical radiation therapy, hormone therapy and observation (watchful waiting).
Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer
Radiation is used in three different ways:
- As a curative alternative option instead of surgery
- If the cancer is not completely removed during surgery
- If the tumor comes back (recurs) in the area after prostatectomy.
Radiation is usually delivered with daily treatment sessions over several weeks using external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) with a Linear Accelerator (LINAC).
Radiation therapy is non-invasive and painless.
It is much like getting a regular X-ray, but for a longer time.
Newer treatment machines like the ones available at Innovative Cancer Institute, such as Varian EDGE and Halcyon units, allow for greater precision in treating the prostate cancer while reducing the radiation exposure to nearby healthy tissues.
Actual treatment times are usually less than 2 minutes per session. These newer tools appear to offer better chances of increasing the success rate in curing prostate cancer and reducing the side effects of the treatment.
Radiosurgery is another radiation related treatment option that we offer.
High-doses of radiation therapy are delivered to the prostate gland in a few minutes in 5 procedures in an outpatient basis, as effective as surgery without the need of anesthesia; while attacking the tumor and protecting healthy tissue.
Other Treatment Options
Surgery: The most common curative operation for prostate cancer is called radical prostatectomy and involves removal of the entire prostate along with the adjacent glands called the seminal vesicles. Radical prostatectomy has a small but definite risk for subsequent urinary incontinence, and sexual impotence (ED: erectile dysfunction) even in the most experienced surgical hands.
Hormone Therapy: The goal of hormone therapy (also called androgen deprivation) is to lower the levels of the male hormones or androgens, such as testosterone. Androgens. which are made mostly in the testicles, induce prostate cancer cells to grow. Lowering androgen levels often makes prostate cancer shrink or grow more slowly. Hormone therapy can control, but will not cure prostate cancer. It is not a substitute for treatments aimed at a cure.
Observation (Watchful Waiting): Because prostate cancer may grow very slowly, older men with low risk tumors can be followed using laboratory and imaging exams in a rather strict protocol with no treatment given. This approach is called watchful waiting. By definition, it involves close monitoring of the patient’s condition without giving any treatment until symptoms appear or change. This is usually recommended in older men with less aggressive cancer or early-stage disease. It is less often a choice if you are younger, healthy, and have a fast-growing cancer.
Side-effects of radiation treatment: Radiation therapy to the pelvic region may cause: Increased urinary frequency, pain or burning on urination, diarrhea, constipation, rectal irritation and/or pain.
Prostate Cancer Radiation Treatment FAQs
What is the best treatment for prostate cancer?
You and your doctor will decide what is the best option for you. This will be dependent upon many factors including your type of tumor and its stage, your medical condition, and your wish to maintain sexual potency and urinary continence.
What is a PSA?
The Prostatic-Specific Antigen or PSA test, measures a substance in the bloodstream which is created only by the prostate gland. Abnormally high PSA levels may signal the presence of cancer. However, PSA levels are also higher in men with large prostate glands from benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) a very common benign condition among men older than 50 years of age. In order to differentiate BPH from prostate cancer in patients with elevated blood PSA levels, doctors also use a test called PSA density, which relates PSA level to the size of the gland. A digital rectal exam, in which the doctor inserts a gloved lubricated finger into the rectum, is used to detect unusual bumps or hard areas on the prostate that might be cancer. If these tests raise concern, the next step is a prostate biopsy.
What is a Gleason Score ?
If there are no symptoms, how is prostate cancer detected?
Screening for prostate cancer can be performed in a physician’s office using two tests: the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test and the digital rectal exam (DRE).
How curable is prostate cancer?
In general, the earlier the cancer is caught, the more likely it is for the patient to be cured. Because approximately 90% of all prostate cancers in the US are detected in the local stages, the cure rate is very high for patients with prostate cancer who are treated appropriately using radiation therapy or surgery.