When cancer develops in the Prostate region of the male the condition is known as Prostate cancer. The prostate is a gland, part of the male reproductive system. The cells in the region become malign and start multiplying profusely, causing ulcers. In severe cases, the cells can also make the bones and lymph malign. Common problems with prostate cancer include pain, difficulty in urinating, erectile dysfunction and other symptoms.
Usually, prostate cancer is aggressive in nature. It takes no time to spread to the rest of the body parts. However, there are certain cases where prostate cancer may show slow growth. Any symptoms of prostate cancer must be reported to a doctor, in case of negligence or delayed diagnosis, the condition might worsen.
Signs & Symptoms
In the early stages, the signs and symptoms of Prostate cancer are hard to diagnose. However, as the cancer grows the signs and symptoms start becoming visible. It is advisable to consult the doctor as soon as any symptoms of the condition are experienced. A prostate specialist will help you with the diagnosis. The common symptoms of Prostate cancer include:
- Frequent urge to urinate, especially at night.
- Difficulty in controlling the flow of urine, especially starting or stopping.
- Dribbling urine after urinating
- Presence of blood or pus in the urine.
- Inability to empty the bladder.
- Painful urination
- Painful ejaculation.
- Pain in hip and lower back pain which does not soothe
- Pain in the lower pelvis.
- Sudden weight loss
- Loss of appetite.
In case a male experiences the symptoms of prostate cancer, the doctor conducts the initial screening to identify the risk of the condition. The diagnosis is then confirmed through special tests which helps to identify the stage and grade of the Cancer. The doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests.
- Blood Tests
A sample of the blood is taken from the body to test for a substance called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). In case of a large prostate the levels of PSA in reported to be higher than normal. However, in the case of Prostate cancer, the levels of PSA are recorded severely high in the blood. In case the levels are high, the doctor would recommend further testing.
- Imaging studies
Various tissues, organs, and bones are diagnosed through imaging techniques. The techniques used for the diagnosis include x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs or bone scan. The results help the doctors in identifying the size of the tumor and check for the spreading.
A biopsy is an ultimate test that aids in fully identifying prostate cancer. A small piece of the prostate is removed and checked under the microscope. The doctor may perform a range of tests before recommending a biopsy, including Cystoscopy, transrectal ultrasonography and more.
Treatment for Prostate Cancer
The treatment of Prostate cancer involves various steps, including watchful waiting, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, cryosurgery, hormonal therapy, and/ or combination of many. Depending upon the size, type and grade of cancer, the doctor would suggest the best option. The doctors also take into account the Gleason score, and the PSA level to decide the best treatment. Age, general health, and will to avail the treatment also affects the selection of the technique.
Here are a few treatment options that the doctor may recommend:
- Watchful Waiting and Active Surveillance
In case of slow-growing prostate cancer, it is important to be watchful. The doctors recommend TRUS or biopsy to be done from time to time. In case the signs of the condition change or grow, immediate treatment is considered.
Also known as Prostatectomy, surgery is advisable during the early-stage prostate cancer. IT is also a resort in cases when cancer fails to respond to radiation therapy. Retropubic prostatectomy is the most common type of surgery in which the prostate is removed through an abdominal incision. Radical perineal prostatectomy is another surgery type in which the prostate is removed through an incision in the perineum. Again the decision of which type of surgery should be performed depends upon the stage and grade of the condition.
- Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is also known as radiotherapy and is a treatment considered effective for almost all stages of cancer. It is also a resort in case of surgery failure. Ionizing radiation is used to kill prostate cancer cells. The radiation includes Gamma and x-rays which damage the DNA in cells and cause cell death. To treat prostate cancer, the doctors use two types of radiation therapy external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy. An expert technician uses a large machine which aims the beam of the radiation at the prostate. During this procedure, both normal cells, as well as cancerous cells, are damaged.
- Hormonal Therapy
In most of the cases, blocking DHT results in a stop of growth of prostate cancer and even cause it to shrink. However, in most of the cases, hormonal therapy does not work. Even if cancer responds to the therapy initially, it becomes unresponsive later. The therapy is therefore considered useful when cancer has spread and is often recommended paired with radiation therapy or surgery to help prevent the return of their cancer.
In this therapy, special treatment is provided to the patient to avoid, block or remove the hormonal flow to the prostate to stop cancer cells from growing. The male hormone testosterone is the key growth factor for cancerous cells, and by removing the supply or reducing it to a minimum, the growth of the tumor can be restricted. Doctor prescribe medicines to the patient to block cancer cells in the prostate from receiving dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It is the primary hormone that is produced in the prostate and contributes towards the growth and spread of most prostate cancer cells.
Chemotherapy can be administered in two ways- as pills or by injection. Chemotherapy drugs fight the cancer cells and intervene in the ability of malign cells to grow and spread. However, chemotherapy also acts in healthy cells. The side effects of the therapy are prominent, even when the healthy cells recover in due course of time. Common side effects experienced by patients undergoing chemotherapy include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, hair loss and an increased risk of infection. In the case of early stages of cancer, the doctors would not recommend Chemotherapy as a suggestive treatment.