Prostate cancer therapy

The prostate is a walnut shaped gland that is part of the male reproductive system. It is found just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Prostate cancer is very common in older men and it occurs when cancer cells form in the prostate tissues. There are various therapies available for prostate cancer. The choice of which prostate cancer therapy is used to treat this disease depends on various factors involving the stage the prostate cancer has reached when diagnosed.

There are 3 stages of prostate cancer which are:

  • First stage: The cancer is confined to just the prostate gland.
  • Second stage: The cancer has advanced locally, meaning the cancer has spread to surrounding local organs.
  • Third Stage: The cancer has metastasized. This is an advanced stage where the cancer has spread to other organs in the body, as far away as the lungs or liver. This is the most difficult stage to treat.

The doctors need to first access the stage the prostate cancer is in before determining on the right prostate cancer therapy that will be the most effective. If the prostate cancer is in the early stages and the patient is an elderly man with other medical conditions, the doctor may choose to just closely monitor the patient’s condition without doing anything until a change is detected. This is called watchful waiting.

A patient who has prostate cancer and is otherwise in good health will be given the option of surgery. There are various types of surgeries that can be done:

  • Pelvic lymphadenectomy. This involves surgically removing the lymph nodes in the pelvis so a pathologist can determine if there are cancer cells present in the nodes.
  • Radical prostatectomy. Done only if no cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes. This involves removing the prostate, seminal vesicles and surrounding tissue. There are 2 types of radical prostatectomy that are done. A retropubic prostatectomy is the first type. This involves removing the prostate and nearby lymph nodes through the abdominal wall via incision. The second type is called a perineal prostatectomy. In this case, the prostate and nearby lymph nodes are removed through an incision made in the perineum. The perineum is the located between the scrotum and the anus.
  • Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP). A surgical procedure where the tissue from the prostate is removed using a resectoscope to relieve symptoms being caused by a tumor before other prostate cancer therapies may be done. The resectoscope is a thin lighted tube that has a cutting tool on it which is inserted through the urethra to remove the tissue.

Radiation is also another form of prostate cancer therapy. There are two types of radiation and the particular type used for each individual will depend on the stage of the cancer being treated. One involves using radiation externally and the other involves using it internally. Radiation therapy is done to kill the cancer cells or keep them from growing. With external radiation, the radiologist uses a machine outside the body to radiate the cancer. With internal radiation, the radiologist uses radioactive seeds, needles, wires or catheters which are placed inside the body near the cancer. It should be noted that men who are treated with radiation therapy will be at a higher risk for developing bladder and rectal cancers. Radiation can also cause impotency and urinary problems.

Hormone therapy is also a form of prostate cancer therapy that can be used to treat some cancers. This type of therapy involves using drugs to stop the action of hormones so that the cancer cells will stop growing. For example, antiandrogens can block the hormones called male hormones called androgens that promote male characteristics. Certain ones can prevent the testicles from producing testosterone. Others can block the adrenal glands from producing androgens. A surgical procedure called an Orchiectomy can be done to remove the testicles to decrease male hormone production as well. Estrogens may also be given to prevent the production of testosterone.

Another prostate cancer therapy that is often used is called Cryosurgery. This involves the use of an instrument that freezes and destroys prostate cancer cells inside the body. Chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with most other treatments since chemotherapy can stop the growth of cancer cells. However, the use of chemotherapy depends on the type and stage of the prostate cancer.

Last updated on Sep 19th, 2010 and filed under Cancer Research. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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