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Prostate Cancer - Your Quick Guide

Aug 17, 2007
The prostate gland is located just beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. Although one man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, only one man in 34 will die of the disease. About 80 percent of men who reach the age of 80 will have prostate cancer.

Most men younger than 40 are rarely ever diagnosed with prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is normally a very slow growth cancer that can take many years before it becomes deadly. The most common cancer in American men, that is excluding skin cancer, is prostate cancer.

Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease are bone pain or tenderness, and abdominal pain. One of the most common symptoms is the inability to urinate. There are several other symptoms that may not be mentioned here.

Because prostate cancer symptoms can mimic other diseases or disorders, men who experience any of these symptoms should undergo a thorough work-up to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms. Blood in the urine or semen and frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs are often symptoms of cancer. One prostate cancer symptom is difficulty starting urination or holding back urine.

Your doctor may use either one or two of the most common tests for prostate cancer detection. 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. There are several potential downsides to PSA testing; for example a high PSA does not always mean a patient has prostate cancer.

A chest x-ray may be done to see if there is a spread of cancer. Urine or prostatic fluid cytology may reveal unusual cells. There is a newer test called AMACR that is more sensitive than the PSA test for determining the presence of prostate cancer.

Medications can have many side effects, including hot flashes and loss of sexual desire. Some drugs with numerous side effects are being used to treat advanced prostate cancer, blocking the production of testosterone, called chemical castration; it has the same result as surgical removal of the testes. An oncology specialist will usually recommend treating with a single drug or a combination of drugs.

Other medications used for hormonal therapy, with side effects, include androgen-blocking agents, which prevent testosterone from attaching to prostate cells. In the early stages, surgery and radiation may be used to remove or attempt to kill the cancer cells or shrink the tumor. Thoroughly discuss your treatment options and concerns with your doctor and other health professionals; it never hurts to get a second or even third opinion or more if necessary.

Prostate cancer that has metastasized may be treated conventionally with drugs to reduce testosterone levels, surgery to remove the testes, chemotherapy or nothing at all. The approaches to treatment include: ever watchful waiting to see whether the cancer is growing slowly and not causing any symptoms. Many men simply want the best treatment they can get but what's important is picking the best treatment for you.

Surgery, radiation therapy, and hormonal therapy can interfere with libido on a temporary or permanent basis. Hormone manipulation is mainly used as a treatment to relieve symptoms in men whose cancer has spread. Surgery is usually only recommended after thorough evaluation and discussion of all available treatment options.

What you can do now is begin to understand what exactly your treatment options are and where you're going to begin. In patients whose health makes the risk of surgery unacceptably high, radiation therapy is often the chosen conventional alternative.

As new research comes out adjust your treatment your options accordingly. Just about all men with prostate cancer survive at least five years after their initial diagnosis, 93% survive at least 10 years, and 67% survive more than 15 years. In the end, only you with the help of your doctors, knowing your individual situation, can determine the best treatment program for you.
About the Author
For more information on prostate cancer treatments and prostate cancer symptoms go to http://www.BestProstateHealthTips.com Helen Hecker R.N.'s website specializing in prostate and prostate cancer tips, advice and resources, including information on prostate tests and natural prostate cancer treatments
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