Prostate Cancer

What is Prostate Cancer?

In men, the prostate is a small and walnut-sized gland residing beneath the bladder, which produces ejaculatory fluid that is essential for reproduction. When prostate cells become damaged and begin to divide uncontrollably, prostate cancer occurs. Prostate cancer treatment requires specialized care to alleviate symptoms and reduce the likelihood of a recurrence.

Prostate Cancer Symptoms

Cancer of this type can often be difficult to detect due to its lack of symptoms. A Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test along with a self-exam can detect prostate cancer early even when there are no symptoms. There are, however, a number of common symptoms that can occur.

  • An inability or difficulty in urinating
  • Burning or pain while urinating
  • The presence of blood in urine
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Pain in the lower back, pelvis, or upper thighs

Prostate Cancer Causes and Prevention

Keeping your overall health in check is the key to preventing prostate cancer, as well as many other diseases. You may not be able to control certain risk factors, like age, family history, and race, but you can still make healthy choices in your life to prevent prostate cancer.

1. Eat Well and Exercise Often

A healthy diet and exercise can prevent prostate cancer. You should limit your consumption of red meat and dairy products as these products can increase the risk. Instead, eat plenty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. Include omega-3s in your diet, including fish, nuts, seeds, and oils. Healthy fats can help protect the body from prostate cancer. If you want to improve your health, your exercise routine does not need to be strenuous. You can reduce stress, maintain a healthy weight, and keep in shape with even a 20-30 minute walk every day.

2. Limit Smoking and Alcohol Consumption

The occasional drink won’t hurt, but daily drinking or drinking several times a week can have long-term effects on your body and even increase your chance of getting prostate cancer. While smoking on occasion won’t bring you a great deal of harm, if you can avoid this practice, it’s best. Ask your doctor about possible methods of quitting if you smoke every day and want to stop.

3. Reduce Stress Levels

Stress puts your body in a constant state of pressure, known as “fight or flight”, which is very taxing on both your body and mind. Apart from preventing prostate cancer, living a stress-free lifestyle can prevent a variety of other diseases. Exercise and meditation, or even a combination of the two, such as yoga, are easy ways to reduce stress.

4. Get Regular Check-Ups

When you ignore other health problems you are increasing your risk of prostate cancer. These conditions may include liver disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. In order to prevent prostate cancer, get regular check-ups with your doctor to ensure that you’re healthy and treating any other health-related problems you may have.

Prostate Cancer Treatment

  1. Active Surveillance and Watchful Waiting

In most cases, prostate cancer grows very slowly, so most older men who develop prostate cancer may not need treatment. Instead, doctors may recommend approaches that observe the cancer closely, without taking immediate action.

No matter what treatment is chosen for prostate cancer, it’s important to note that early detection is crucial. Cancer is monitored very closely once it has been diagnosed with “active surveillance,” which means the patient is put under constant monitoring. This approach includes frequent (bi-annual) doctor visits with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests and digital rectal exams (DRE). If during the course of the appointments the patient’s test results change, the doctor would then talk to them about treatment options.

Another form of follow-up is called “watchful waiting”. In this process, there would be fewer tests and more reliance on the patient’s symptoms in determining whether alternative treatment is needed.

  1. Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is typically the first treatment offered to patients with prostate cancer that has not spread. During the treatment, beams of radiation are focused on the prostate gland to basically burn the cells.

As cancer advances, radiation therapy can help keep the cancer under control for as long as possible and relieve symptoms at the same time. It is often combined with hormone therapy as part of the initial treatment for cancers that have spread outside the prostate gland and into nearby tissues.

  1. Prostate Cancer Surgery

In contrast to radiation treatments, surgery involves removing the prostate gland as a whole.

Cancer that has not spread outside the prostate gland is normally treated this way. When a “radical prostatectomy” is recommended, the surgeon will remove the entire prostate gland and some surrounding tissue to ensure the cancer does not spread.

  1. Hormonal Therapy

When the cancer has spread too far for surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy to be effective, hormonal therapy will likely be recommended to shrink it.

As previously stated, it can be used with other therapies, like radiation, as an initial treatment if the patient is at greater risk of the cancer returning after treatment.

  1. Cryotherapy

Living tissue cannot withstand extreme cold, regardless of how healthy it is. Cryotherapy destroys prostate cancer tissue by freezing it at extremely low temperatures.

The prostate gland is injected with a freezing liquid, such as liquid nitrogen or argon gas. As the prostate freezes, any cancerous tissue within is destroyed. The surgeon can limit the amount of damage to normal prostate tissue by using ultrasound to identify the cancer cells.

White blood cells clean up the dead tissue and cancer cells after they have been destroyed.

  1. Chemotherapy

Lastly, if prostate cancer has spread outside the prostate gland and hormone therapy has failed, chemotherapy may be used.

Medication is injected into a vein or taken orally. Drugs enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, making this treatment potentially useful for cancers that have spread.

A number of our providers at the Urology Specialists of the Carolinas specialize in treating urinary incontinence. Meet our expert team of physicians:

FAQs

As is the case with any disease, early detection of prostate cancer can be crucial to ensure a successful treatment outcome. However, prostate cancer can be difficult to detect in the early stages because it often lacks symptoms. To catch the disease as early as possible, it is important to participate in regular health screenings with your urologist.

You can live a long time with prostate cancer, especially if you catch it in the early stages — but that doesn’t mean this condition won’t impact your daily life in many ways. Prostate cancer will affect you physically, sexually, emotionally, and socially. To learn more about living with prostate cancer, download our free guide!

There is always a possibility that your cancer will return, and approximately 20 to 30 percent of men will relapse after the five-year year mark. However, if your cancer has returned after receiving treatment, our Advanced Prostate Cancer Clinic can help you receive personalized, cutting edge treatment for your condition.

Treating Prostate Cancer at Urology Specialists of the Carolinas

If you have additional questions about prostate cancer, or if you would like to further discuss ways to prevent or treat the disease, schedule an appointment at your nearest USOC location. And if your prostate cancer was detected late or has returned after receiving treatment, we can provide high-quality treatment and care through our Advanced Prostate Cancer Clinic

In the meantime, download our Living With Prostate Cancer guide to learn even more about this condition — and, more importantly, how to live with it. Click the button below to access your free copy!

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