Table of Contents
What is prostate?
Prostate cancer means cancer of prostate gland. The prostate is located below the bladder, in front of the rectum. It is found only in males. The urethra, which carries urine, passes through the prostate. It produces the fluid that is required for healthy sperm.
It is an uncontrolled and rapid growth of prostate cells. If cancer cells are spread to other organs, it is called metastatic prostate cancer.
About prostate cancer
Signs & symptoms of prostate cancer
Prostate cancer grows gradually over the years. Men with early-stage prostate cancer don’t have any visible signs or symptoms. It only shows up at a later stage or advanced stage.
Symptoms include difficulty in peeing, blood in the urine, erectile dysfunction, and body pain.
Here are some of the diagnostic tests:
PSA blood test: The prostate gland produces PSA protein. It is present in the blood. Enhanced PSA levels indicate prostate cancer. Blood tests check the PSA level and changes in the PSA level over time.
Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS): The doctor inserts a tiny wand into the rectum. It gives sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off the prostate. The echoes are represented as an image on a computer screen.
MRI: The radio waves and strong magnets help create detailed images of the body. It helps to detect the spread of cancer outside the prostate.
Prostate biopsy: The doctor removes small pieces of the cancerous part of the prostate with a long, hollow needle. TRUS or MRI helps to examine the prostate. The doctor checks the pieces for cancer cells.
Lymph node biopsy: The doctor may suggest lymph node biopsy if there is metastasis in lymph nodes.
CT scan: With the help of x-rays, it captures detailed pictures of the body. A CT scan shows the spread of cancer outside the prostate.
Bone scan: It checks the spread of cancer to the bones.
PET scan: It identifies the cancer spread. A small amount of a low-level radioactive substance is put in the blood, which attaches to the cancer cells. A special camera helps to detect the areas of radioactivity.
The doctor will find the spread of prostate cancer or the stage of cancer. It helps to determine the types of treatment best suited for you.
The stage is decided based on the cancer growth or cancer spread through the prostate. In the case of metastasis, it also includes the blood PSA level and the cancer grade. A grade is decided on the appearance of prostate cancer cells under a microscope. The cells with a different appearance from normal cells are of a higher grade. These cells are likely to overgrow. A Gleason score (between 6 and 10) or a Grade Group (between 1 and 5) determines the cancer grade. The grade helps to determine the treatments best suited for you.
Cancer has 1, 2, 3, or 4 stages. The lower number indicates less spread of cancer. A higher number suggests the severe spread of cancer outside the prostate.
The doctor may put non-metastasis cancers into a risk group. It depends on the extent of cancer spread, PSA level, and the prostate biopsy results. The risk group determines the need for diagnostic tests and the best-suited treatment options.
Ask the doctor about your cancer stage, grade, and risk group.
How advanced is my cancer?
What are the suitable treatments for me?
The treatments available are listed below:
Prostate cancer grows gradually. Hence, older males and those with other health problems may not need treatment. The doctor may keep track of cancer. It is helpful if the tumor is localized, not causing any issues, and growing slowly.
Healthy young males having small- slow-growing prostate cancer are suitable candidates for active surveillance. The treatment includes monitoring cancer closely and treating it if any symptoms are present.
Surgery helps to cure or control cancer and make symptoms better. It is a standard treatment to cure prostate cancer if it is not spread outside the prostate. Radical prostatectomy is a type of prostate surgery. The surgeon removes the prostate, tissues around it and the seminal vesicles.
The common side effects of prostate surgery are urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, infertility, lymphedema, change in penis length, and groin hernia.
Ask the doctor about the type of surgery needed and what to expect.
Radiation is high-energy rays that kill cancer cells. There are two ways to treat prostate cancer with radiation therapy. The first is by aiming at the prostate from a machine outside the body. The second is by putting small radioactive pellets, or tiny seeds, into the prostate.
The common side effects of radiation therapy are diarrhea, leaking urine/stool, or blood in the urine/ stool; frequent urination, burning sensation while peeing; erectile dysfunction; fatigue; and edema.
Many side effects get better after radiation ends. Some might last longer. Ask your doctor about what you can expect.
It reduces or blocks the levels of androgens, male hormones to shrink prostate cancers or curb cancer growth. Hormone therapy does not cure prostate cancer.
The most common side effects are libido, erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, bone thinning, and weight gain. Ask the doctor about what to expect from hormone treatment.
Chemo medicines are injected intravenously or taken orally. These medicines move into the blood and spread through the body. The medicine is given in cycles or rounds. Each round of treatment has a rest time. Chemotherapy is beneficial only if cancer has spread outside the prostate.
The common side effects are fatigue, stomachache, and hair fall. These problems go away after the treatment ends. There are ways to treat chemo side effects. Talk to your doctor if any side effects appear.
The other treatment options may or may not be standard medical treatments. These treatments include vitamins, herbs, and diet. Some of these may be beneficial. Talk to your doctor about other treatment options.
What are the other treatment options?
What to expect after treatment?
You will be constantly worried about cancer coming back or a recurrence. After treatment ends, visit your doctor every few months. Keep all follow-up visits. Your doctors will ask you about the symptoms. A physical examination might be needed to suggest diagnostic tests to check recurrence.
Dealing with cancer treatment is tough, but it can also be a time to think about improving your health. Contact us at https://ankr.us or talk to your doctor to find out what you can do to feel better.
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