What You Should Know About Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the U.S. Men younger than 40 are rarely ever diagnosed with prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is deadly but can be cured if it’s caught early enough. In most men, prostate cancer grows very slowly: most men will never know they have it.

The prostate is a small, walnut-sized structure that makes up part of a man’s reproductive system; it wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. The prostate gland is located directly beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum.

There may be other symptoms not mentioned here. Other symptoms might include unintentional weight loss and lethargy. There are several symptoms to be aware of.

Weak or interrupted flow of urine and painful or burning urination can be symptoms to watch out for. If cancer is caught at its earliest stages, most men will not experience any symptoms. One of the most common symptoms is the inability to urinate at all.
A chest x-ray may be done to see if there’s a spread of cancer. One downside to PSA testing is that health care providers are detecting and treating some very early-stage prostate cancers that may never have caused the patient any harm. Another test usually used when prostate cancer symptoms are present is the digital rectal exam (DRE) performed by the doctor.

A PSA test with a high level can also be from a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test measures the PSA enzyme in your blood for abnormalities. A urinalysis may indicate if there is blood in the urine.

The approaches to treatment include: ever watchful waiting to see whether the cancer is growing slowly and not causing any symptoms. In the early stages, surgery and radiation may be used to remove or attempt to kill the cancer cells or shrink the tumor. Hormone manipulation is mainly used as a treatment to relieve symptoms in men whose cancer has spread.

Treatment options can vary based on the stage of the tumor. What you can do now is begin to understand what exactly your treatment options are and where you’re going to begin. Chemotherapy medications are often used to treat prostate cancers that are resistant to hormonal treatments.

Surgery, radiation therapy, and hormonal therapy can interfere with libido on a temporary or permanent basis. Be aware that some men chose natural treatment options and forgo any surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. Medicines can be used to adjust the levels of testosterone; called hormonal manipulation.

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. Many men simply want the best treatment they can get but what’s important is picking the best treatment for you. In patients whose health makes the risk of surgery unacceptably high, radiation therapy is often the chosen conventional alternative.

Radiation therapy is used primarily to treat prostate cancers classified as stages A, B, or C. If chemotherapy is decided upon, after the first round of chemotherapy, most men receive further doses on an outpatient basis at a clinic or physician’s office. Being treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy is something to think through carefully and know that you have the option to refuse them.

If you’ve already been diagnosed with prostate cancer, pick the option that’s best suited to you and your continuing good health. As new research comes out you can adjust your treatment options accordingly. Just about all men with prostate cancer survive at least five years after their diagnosis, 93% survive at least 10 years, and 67% survive more than 15 years.

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