What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer refers to abnormal cell growth in prostate glands. This is a condition that affects only males because females do not have prostate glands. The cancer can be present in different forms, including benign tumors and malignant growths. Signs and symptoms include frequent and painful urination, blood in urine, and chronic pain in the pelvic area.
Diagnosis of prostate cancer
Diagnosis of prostate cancer is mainly done through transrectal digital examinations. The prostate is located against the front wall of the rectum and can be felt there. If the examining physician feels an abnormality in the size or shape of the gland, further tests are carried out to confirm a diagnosis. Confirmation tests include CT scans, ultrasounds and tissue biopsies. For early diagnosis before symptoms appear, a test called the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test is carried out. It is a blood test that measures the likelihood of a patient developing prostate cancer.
Common treatment plans for prostate cancer
Prostate cancer can be treated in several ways. The examples below are the most common according to the Advanced Prostate Cancer Institute in Florida.
1. Surgery – This is the most popular treatment plan and has the fewest side effects. The procedure is referred to as radical prostatectomy. It involves complete removal of the gland and surrounding tissue. It is ideal when the cancer has not spread outside the gland.
2. Radiation therapy – This treatment plan employs the use of targeted radiation to kill the cancerous cells. It is commonly done when the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues, has recurred, or is too large to be operated on. It is an effective way to treat prostate cancer but is not without side effects that include hair loss and damage to healthy cells if the exposure to radiation is too high.
3. Chemotherapy – This method of treating prostate cancer involves the injection of cancer-curing drugs. This method is employed when the cancer has spread to tissues and organs far from the prostate. It works against cells that are dividing quickly. Side effects include nausea, dizziness and diarrhea.
4. Hormone therapy – This treatment plan works by depriving the prostate gland of androgens. Androgens are male sex hormones that can promote cancerous growth. This treatment plan is often used as a complement to radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
5. Vaccine treatment – This is a customizable treatment plan is used when a diagnosis is made early and mainly by means of the PSA test. The patient’s blood cells are used to make a vaccine which trains the body’s immune system to attack cancerous cells in the prostate.
6. Cyrotherapy -This is a prostate cancer treatment plan applied in early stages of the disease. It involves freezing the prostate gland to destroy it. It is less invasive than surgery but just as effective.