Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancer affecting men. It grows at the base of the bladder known as the prostate, which is a gland in the male reproductive system. The prostate gland is responsible for forming fluids that creates semen and usually don’t have any early symptoms at all, hence the death rate is quite high
There are several risk factors that can result in prostate cancer, which include age, gender, genetics, medication, diet, obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, enzyme PRSS3 and agent orange.
Signs and symptoms include frequent urination, difficulty urinating, blood in the urine or semen, leakage of urine while laughing or coughing, painful ejaculation and erection issues. Further symptoms, if the cancer has advanced, could involve pain in bone, spine, pelvis, femur or ribs, leg weakness, urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence.
Prostate cancer is hard to detect as it does not show any early signs, however, once advanced, the above mentioned symptoms can help in determining whether the person is diagnosed with prostate cancer. Many tests are also performed to determine the type of cancer in the absence of symptoms, which are digital rectal examination, prostate specific antigen blood test, prostate ultrasound, cystoscopy or bladder scope test, a biopsy, CT scan and MRI.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
There are several methods to treat prostate cancer, depending on the type and stage at the time of diagnosis of the cancer, age and overall medical condition of the patient. The diagnostic tests also help the doctor to decide which treatment is most suitable for the patient. Treatment of prostate cancer includes the following options:
- Surgery: Surgery is a common option to treat prostate cancer, unless the cancer has spread to other vital regions of the body. It involves removing the entire prostate gland along with some other surrounding tissues, including the seminal vesicles to make the area free of cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy makes use of high energy x-rays targeted at the affected area accurately to kill the cancer cells. External beam radiation and brachytherapy are two main types of radiation therapy:
- Cryotherapy: This method involves freezing the cancer cells with extremely cold temperature and remove them. It is not a common option to cure prostate cancer, but doctors may use it if cancer comes back after radiotherapy.
- Homotherapy: Homotherapy, or Androgen Deprivation therapy (ADT), aims to reduce the hormone levels in the male body that are responsible for prostate cancer cells to grow. It is used when radiation therapy and surgery cannot be employed to the patient due to health issues. It is also used with radiation therapy, which shrinks the cancer first.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy can be given intravenously or orally. The drugs enter the bloodstream and reaches to the cancer cells throughout the body and destroys them.
- Other treatments: Watchful waiting, vaccine treatment and bone directed treatment are some other ways to cure prostate cancer, which is rarely used alongside the above treatment methods.
Most of the best cancer hospitals in India offer treatment for prostate cancer. Cost of prostate cancer treatment would depend upon stage at the time of diagnosis. Cancer care in India usually involves evaluation with a PET scan and then deciding upon surgical options which may be robotic or radiotherapy etc.
Cancer treatment usually has side effects which can be both temporary and permanent. Below are mentioned a few of the risks and complications one may experience after the treatment. Make sure to discuss them with your doctor before the treatment.
- Urinary incontinence
- Erectile dysfunction
- Bowel issues
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blood clots
- Damage to organs and tissues
- Swelling in the penis or scrotum
- Pain and burning sensation
Post operative care
Life post treatment could be both exciting and stressful. It all depends on how your treatment goes and how well you respond to it. Follow the guidelines given by the health care team.
Visit every after care appointments where the doctor will perform several imaging tests and physical examinations to make sure cancer isn’t coming back.
You may experience some change in your reproductive system, which may make you feel restless or afraid. Talk with your physician about it as it could be a possible treatment complication.
Avoid sexual intercourse for a few weeks.
Do regular workouts and eat a healthy diet to improve your strength.
Quit smoking and consumption of alcohol and get all the emotional and social support from friends and family.