What You Need to Know About Prostate Cancer From Symptoms to Treatments

Cancer is one of those words that no one ever wants to hear when it comes to a diagnosis. Honestly, it’s one of those things that can bring a person down to their lowest levels both physically and emotionally.

Prostate cancer is one of those that you might not even know you have, I mean in reality what person wants to get tested for that, but it’s a necessity because the earlier it’s caught, the better chance you have of beating it.

Let’s look at some of the basic information from the beginning symptoms to the possible treatments.

What is Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is cancer that affects the prostate gland, which is the same gland that produces semen and helps with urine control for men.[1]

One reason to be vigilant about testing for prostate cancer on a regular basis is that it is the most common cancer in men throughout the U.S but it also is highly treatable when caught at its early stages.[2]

prostate cancer

Risk Factors Associated with Prostate Cancer

Just like everything else, there are certain risks that may potentially make someone more prone to getting prostate cancer.

Knowing what these risks are could mean the difference between getting checked out early and not even getting it a second thought (although everyone should take stock in the health of their body).

According to studies, African Americans are at a 70 percent greater risk over Caucasians or Hispanics, and being over the age of 60 in general, exponentially increases those chances as well.[3]

Another risk factor is genetics, like anything if it runs in the men in your immediate family you should consider yourself in a riskier situation.[4] High testosterone levels also can be a contributing factor to contracting cancer.

One risk factor though is diet, which can be helped. Decreasing the number of saturated fats in your diet and keeping a healthy weight could prevent you from having more risk factors that you really need to.

And this could be following whatever diet you want unless it’s higher in saturated fats. Increase your fruits and vegetable intake and you can eliminate this risk.

Symptoms

While for some, there are no discernable symptoms early on, the more in tune with your body you are, the more likely you are to notice a change in your habits or the way things are happening down there.

Some of the most common (again, not everyone will even know) is increased frequency to urinate, issues with starting and stopping urination, blood in the urine, pain with urination, and issues with erections.[5]

These are some of the early symptoms that one might experience, but there are also some that indicate advanced stages.

Again though, if you experience any changes, you should consult your doctor, especially if there is nothing else going on that could potentially be the cause of these issues.

Advanced signs are bone pain, specifically in the spine, femur, pelvis or ribs and multiple bone fractures. But it can also advance to leg weakness and incontinence.[6]

If you start coming across symptoms like this, a doctor visit immediately is warranted. Letting them go could be the difference between walking away cancer-free after treatment, and not walking away at all.

Stages of Prostate Cancer

There are four stages of prostate cancer. Starting with the lowest number, 0 is when it’s localized and hasn’t spread to the prostate gland.[7]

But the first thing they will do to determine is figuring out your Gleason score, which is based on the microscopic appearance[8] of the area in question. It starts at grade 1 which is the lowest score and resembles normal tissues.

Grades 2 and 3 you can still see recognizable glands, however, once though you venture into the 4th and 5th grades we are no longer seeing recognizable ones and the cancerous cells are invading the tissues.[9]

Let’s look at the stages though[10] :

  • Stage 1: Cancer is only in the prostate and cannot be detected during a digital rectal exam.
  • Stage 2: Can now be detected through the rectal exam, but is abnormal and quicker growing than stage 1.
  • Stage 3: cancer has now spread to the surrounding tissues.
  • Stage 4: it’s spread to other parts of the body including the rectum, lymph nodes and potentially bones.

Treatment Options for Early Stage Prostate Cancer

There are different options of treatment for different stages of prostate cancer. Let’s start small and work our way up to the more advanced treatments.

These treatments are designed for when cancer has not spread and is still localized to the prostate itself.

One of the first forms of treatment would be monitoring of the PSA blood levels, which means that there might not be any treatment happening right away because the side effects would outweigh the benefits at this point.[11]

They could also surgically remove the prostate performing a radical prostatectomy.[12] They also have a Brachytherapy in which radioactive seeds are implanted to deliver targeted radiation treatment.[13]

There is also conformal radiation therapy, intensity modulated radiation therapy, the latter being a more advanced form.[14]

There is also another way to treat cancer, which is cryosurgery (sounds really futuristic), which can freeze the tissues and kill the cells.[15]

Ultrasound therapy can also be used in the opposite way of cryo, by heating the tissues instead to kill the cells.[16]

Treatment of Advanced Prostate Cancer

If prostate cancer wasn’t caught early enough and it has had time to spread to other parts of the body, more advanced treatments will be necessary in order to treat it.

The first, as we all know is chemotherapy. Next is androgen deprivation therapy, which is a hormone treatment that can slow down and stop the cancer cells.[17]

If this is the route you are going, hormone therapy is long-term, not something that will be done in a few weeks or months.

After this, there are always options for clinical trials, which can attempt to use new methods of treatment that could help treat cancer as well.

When all options fail this might be the route one has to go to try and heal their bodies.

One of the advanced therapies is an immunotherapy vaccine called Provenge (technical terms sipuleucel-T) which has been found to help those with advanced stages, live longer,[18] and who doesn’t want to spend more time watching their families grow.

Outcomes

While having cancer is a scary time in one’s life, having a group of support group around you is important. Another thing that you’ll want to consider is that you have the right doctor.

Honestly, you could have one doctor that gave you the diagnosis but you don’t have to stay with them if you don’t feel comfortable.

Getting a second opinion is always a good decision as well but don’t necessarily wait too long, because waiting could be the difference between early detection and it is more advanced.

Also once you have treatment, ensure that you continue to get your regular checkups and hopefully you remain free and clear.

If you are fighting this disease know there are many options available to you to help you come out on the other side. Good luck.

References:

  1. Christian Nordqvist via Medical News Today. Prostate Cancer: Symptoms, Treatment, and Causes [ link ]
  2. See Above #1
  3. Cancer Center. What are the Symptoms & Signs of Prostate Cancer [ link ]
  4. See Above #3
  5. See Above #1
  6. See Above #1
  7. See Above #1
  8. See Above #3
  9. See Above #3
  10. See Above #3
  11. See Above #1
  12. See Above #1
  13. See Above #1
  14. See Above #1
  15. HealthLine. Prostate Cancer: What You Need to Know. [ link ]
  16. See Above #15
  17. See Above #1
  18. See Above #15

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