About Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-cutaneous cancer in American men. There are nearly 3 million prostate cancer survivors in the U.S. today. All men are at risk, some more than others. This is a cancer that has very few, if any, noticeable symptoms when it is in its earliest, curable stage.
The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is part of the male reproductive system and necessary for reproduction. The prostate surrounds the upper part of the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder.
Prostate cancer begins in the prostate and, if left untreated, may spread to other parts of the body. When found while it is still in the prostate, it can be effectively treated, offering the best chance for cure.
Countless men can be helped by talking about the disease, increasing awareness and helping them get treatment and support.
This year there will be 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer and 26, 730 deaths from prostate cancer.
- Increasing age
- African-American ancestry
- Family history
- Certain inherited genetic conditions (BRCA and Lynch)
There is a lot of discussion and even some controversy about screening and testing. What is most important is that you know your personal risk. With the right information you can take care of yourself. Start talking to your doctor at 45 about regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing and depending upon your risk factors earlier.
Diagnosing Prostate Cancer:
There are usually no symptoms of early stage prostate cancer. That is when the cancer is still in the prostate and very small. Therefore the doctor relies on different tests to get information about how the prostate is behaving.
First a doctor will check the level of PSA (prostate specific antigen) in your blood – this is an easy blood test. This isn’t like a pregnancy test – it WILL NOT tell you if you have prostate cancer. If the level is high, it just means something may be going on and you need to work with your doctor to find out more. Usually the doctor will repeat the PSA blood test and/or perform a physical exam of the prostate. The physical exam is called a DRE (digital rectal exam) and the doctor puts a LUBRICATED and gloved finger into the rectum to feel the prostate. Talk about connecting the dots!
Depending upon the results if more tests are needed most likely the next step is to consider a biopsy of the prostate. This is the removal of samples of tissue from your prostate with a needle and the help of ultrasound.
If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer you have many options for treatment. Now is the time to get all of the information you can, let people you care about help you and be your own best advocate. There are many treatment options available and treatment should be tailor made just for you – your disease, your desires for your life, your health … it is all about you.
Factors to know about your diagnosis as you decide on treatment include:
- Gleason score – how aggressive is the prostate cancer
- Clinical stage – where is prostate cancer located
There are many treatment options available for men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Treatment depends on many factors; there is no one size fits all “right” answer. If diagnosed, a man needs to learn about his options, get information and make an informed decision.
For men with localized or early stage prostate cancer treatment options may include:
- Beam radiation
- Ultrasound ablation
For men with metastatic or advanced prostate cancer. Treatment options may include:
- Hormonal therapy
- Beam radiation