A diagnosis of prostate cancer can feel overwhelming for a man. Foremost on their mind is usually what’s the best way to treat it and what does the future hold. It can be an upsetting time for a man and his family and even more so if his knowledge of prostate cancer treatment options is limited. Not knowing what is available or what course of action to take can possibly set him on the wrong track of knowing how best to fight it.
Men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer are often scared with not completely understanding what prostate cancer means. That’s okay. I’m here to help them. By reassuring them there are many ways to treat prostate cancer, every step of his journey is guided in determining what is best for each individual man. That gives him the feeling of being in charge of his health care decisions. By earning his trust, both of us together can improve his chances of coming out cancer free in the end.
Prostate gland and prostate cancer statistics
The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive system which sits below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Its function is to produce a fluid that contributes to the formation of semen. Normally the size of a walnut in younger men, the prostate can grow much larger as a man ages
Prostate cancer is when cells in the prostate gland grow uncontrollably. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) approximately 14 percent of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2010-2012 data. Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for this disease in the United States for 2017 is around 161,360 new cases and about 26,730 men will succumb to prostate cancer.
However, if prostate cancer is discovered in its early stages, it has a 98.9 percent survival rate as reported from the NCI.
Each individual patient’s prostate cancer treatment depends on many factors – the man’s age, overall health, staging of the cancer and its location. Tailoring a treatment plan best suited for each patient’s unique needs is necessary to have the best outcome. When the options available are thoroughly explained, a man and his physician will be better prepared to choose the one right for him
The best defense is to have a game plan of good offense when it comes to prostate cancer.
Women are very good about getting yearly checkups. Men need to do the same and have yearly exams to assess what is going on with their prostate. A simple rectal exam which takes less than a minute and a yearly PSA blood test starting at age 40 are good screening tools urologists use to detect any changes in the prostate gland. Not getting screened is unwise and a man will be missing his opportunity to catch any changes before it’s too late.
If abnormalities are found with either the rectal exam or the PSA test, from there the doctor may decide to do a prostate biopsy to obtain tissue samples from the prostate gland. The samples of tissue are screened for the size, shape, and pattern of growth of possible cancer cells and will be assigned what is called a Gleason score. The Gleason score is used to describe the aggressiveness of the cancer cells and to predict prognosis and to determine what therapy is best for the patient.
If prostate cancer is confirmed, then treatment options will be decided depending on what stage the cancer is in. One option a man and his doctor may decide to do is called active surveillance. This is the decision not to treat prostate cancer at the time of diagnosis based on the man’s age, health condition and the rate of growth of the cancer.
Prostate cancer needing more aggressive treatment depends upon the expected rate of growth, staging and other factors. The doctor may decide to choose one type of therapy or a combination to beat back the cancer. His choices range from the da Vinci prostatectomy, radiation therapy, Cyberknife SBRT procedure, IMRT procedure, seed implant procedure, or hormone therapy.
All men need to be familiar with their bodies and know signs and symptoms when something doesn’t seem right. But with prostate cancer there often may not be many symptoms or they seem vague and unimportant. Be your own health advocate. The best way to fight off this potential killer is to get regular checkups, understand the prostate and prostate cancer and find a urologist who will guide you through the battle every step of the way.
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel’s Medical A-Team. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, SamadiMD.com, davidsamadiwiki, davidsamadibio and Facebook.