In 2018, the National Cancer Institute reported 18.1 million new cancer diagnoses worldwide. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is never easy. But no matter where you are on your cancer journey, there are people, resources and teams of health care professionals ready to help you. Cancer treatment is not just treating the malignant components of your diagnosis, but also tending to your physical and mental health needs.
The exact cause of prostate cancer is not known, but Inspira oncologists offer a variety of diagnostic and treatment options.
About Prostate Cancer
The prostate is a sex gland that produces a thick fluid that forms part of the semen. The prostate is about the size of a walnut, although it can grow larger. It's located below the bladder and in front of the rectum and surrounds the upper part of the urethra. This is the tube that empties urine from the bladder. The prostate needs hormones such as testosterone to work normally.
Though its exact cause isn’t known, prostate cancer is more common in those with close relatives who have had prostate cancer. Some studies have found that diets high in red meat or high-fat dairy foods also seem to increase risk.
Additionally, studies are being done to see if contact with certain chemicals increases the risk for prostate cancer.
The American Urologic Association recommends men age 55 to 69 talk with a doctor about prostate cancer screening. Men who are African-American, smokers or have a family history should start the discussion sooner. The goal of screening for prostate cancer is to find cancers that may be at high risk for spreading if not treated, and to find them early before they spread
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Many with prostate cancer have no symptoms. The cancer is often found during a digital rectal examination (DRE) or a PSA blood test. The most common symptoms of prostate cancer are:
- A need to urinate often, especially at night
- Weak or interrupted urine flow
- Trouble starting to urinate
- Trouble emptying the bladder
- Being unable to urinate
- Accidental urination
- Painful or burning when you urinate
- Blood in your urine or semen
- Pain or stiffness in your lower back, hips, ribs or upper thighs
- Loss of ability to have an erection
- Weakness or numbness in legs or feet
Our Approach to Prostate Cancer Treatment
Deciding on treatment for prostate cancer can be tricky. Those with early stage cancer have a number of choices. And according to recent research, it isn’t always clear which treatment may be best.
Which Treatments Work
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. But it’s usually a slow-growing disease. It can often be cured if it hasn’t yet spread outside the prostate. For these cases, one or more of the following treatments may work:
- Surgery to remove the tumor from the prostate
- Radiation therapy. This uses high-energy X-rays or another form of radiation to kill or stop the growth of cancerous cells
- Watchful waiting or active surveillance. This means not taking action right away. Instead, your doctor keeps an eye on the cancer to see if it starts to cause symptoms and can actively monitor for changes with more frequent screening.
- Immunotherapy, which is primarily used for advanced stage cancer.
So which approach is best? It depends on the stage of cancer and sometimes it’s hard to tell. No study to date has directly compared all types of treatment over a long period of time. But one recent study tried to do so using statistical analysis for those with early stage cancer.
Researchers compiled 21 past studies that included more than 7,300 people with early stage prostate cancer. They used data from these studies to compare the safety and effectiveness of several standard treatments. These included watchful waiting, a type of surgery called prostatectomy, and several forms of radiation therapy.
No treatment was rated superior in terms of survival. Some therapies did fare better when the researchers looked at certain side effects. Overall, though, they caution that more research is needed.
Our cancer team will work with you to make the best treatment decisions for you and your situation.
Inspira Cancer Specialists
If you’d like more information about your or a loved one’s cancer care, or to receive a second opinion about a diagnosis, our team is here to help.