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What You Must Know To Make An Informed Decision About Prostate Cancer Treatments

Aug 17, 2007
Detected in its early stages, prostate cancer can be effectively treated and cured. In most men, prostate cancer grows very slowly: most men will never know they have the condition. Prostate cancer is deadly but can be cured if it's caught early enough.

At an advanced age, the risks of surgery for prostate cancer or other more radical treatments may actually be worse than the disease. It's estimated that approximately 234,460 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with it this year, and approximately 27,350 will die of the disease. The prostate gland is located directly beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum.

One of the most common symptoms is the inability to urinate at all. Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease are bone pain or tenderness, and abdominal pain. Because 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.

Some men will experience symptoms that might indicate the presence of prostate cancer. Having one or more cancer symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer. If cancer is caught at its earliest stages, most men will not experience any symptoms.

The decision about whether to pursue a PSA test should be based on a discussion between you and your doctor. A PSA test with a high level can also be from a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. A number of tests may be done to confirm a diagnosis.

There are several potential downsides to PSA testing; for example a high PSA does not always mean a patient has prostate cancer. What is called a free PSA may help tell the difference between BPH (benign prostatic hypertrophy), an enlargement of the prostate gland, and prostate cancer. A prostate biopsy usually confirms the diagnosis.

Be aware that some men chose natural treatment options and forgo any surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. Prostate cancer that has spread (metastasized) may be treated conventionally with drugs to reduce testosterone levels, surgery to remove the testes, chemotherapy or nothing at all. Recent improvements in surgical procedures have made complications occur less often.

Anyone considering surgery should be aware of the benefits, risks and the extent of the procedure. Medicines can be used to adjust the levels of testosterone; called hormonal manipulation. In the early stages, surgery and radiation may be used to remove or attempt to kill the cancer cells or shrink the tumor.

In patients whose health makes the risk of surgery unacceptably high, radiation therapy is often the chosen conventional alternative. Besides hormonal drugs, hormone manipulation may also be done by surgically removing the testes. If chemotherapy is decided upon after the first round of chemotherapy, most men receive further doses on an outpatient basis at a clinic or physician's office.

Other medications used for hormonal therapy, with side effects, include androgen-blocking agents, which prevent testosterone from attaching to prostate cells. Hormone manipulation is mainly used as a treatment to relieve symptoms in men whose cancer has spread. Surgery, called a radical prostatectomy, removes the entire prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissues.

What you can do now is begin to understand what exactly your treatment options are and where you're going to begin. Medications can have many side effects, including hot flashes and loss of sexual desire.

Just about all men with prostate cancer survive at least five years after their diagnosis, 93% survive at least 10 years, and 67% survive more than 15 years.

As new research comes out adjust your treatment options accordingly. Because it's a slow-growing disease, many men with this disease will die from other causes before they die from prostate cancer.
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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