Prostate Cancer Tips Tests And Treatments

By: Helen Hecker

The prostate gland is located directly beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. About one man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, but only one man in 34 will die of the disease. Men have traditionally been less likely to seek medical attention than women, especially for minor problems which often serve as warning signs for more serious underlying illness.

The male hormone testosterone contributes to the growth of cancer. The most common cancer in American men, excluding skin cancer, is prostate cancer. The prostate is a small, walnut-sized structure that makes up part of a man's reproductive system; it wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body.

There are several symptoms to be aware of. Some men will experience symptoms that might indicate the presence of prostate cancer. One prostate cancer symptom is difficulty starting urination or holding back urine.

If you have one or more prostate cancer symptoms, you should see a qualified doctor as soon as possible. One of the most common symptoms is the inability to urinate at all. One symptom is a need to urinate frequently, especially at night.

A PSA test with a high level can also be from a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. A chest x-ray may be done to see if there's a spread of cancer. CT scans may be done to see if the cancer has spread.

What is called a free PSA may help tell the difference between BPH (benign prostatic hypertrophy), an enlargement of the prostate gland, and prostate cancer. Your doctor may use either one or two of the most common tests for prostate cancer detection. The decision about whether to pursue a PSA test should be based on a discussion between you and your doctor.

Other medications used for hormonal therapy, with side effects, include androgen-blocking agents, which prevent testosterone from attaching to prostate cells. Recent improvements in surgical procedures have made complications occur less often. Surgery, radiation, hormonal therapy and chemotherapy all have significant side effects; know fully what they are before you proceed.

Surgery, called a radical prostatectomy, removes the entire prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissues. Besides hormonal drugs, hormone manipulation may also be done by surgically removing the testes. Impotence is a potential complication after the prostatectomy or after radiation therapy.

What you can do now is begin to understand what exactly your treatment options are and where you're going to begin. Medications can have many side effects, including hot flashes and loss of sexual desire. In patients whose health makes the risk of surgery unacceptably high, radiation therapy is often the chosen conventional alternative.

Hormone manipulation is mainly used as a treatment to relieve symptoms in men whose cancer has spread. Whether radiation is as good as removing the prostate is debatable and the decision about which to choose, if any, can be difficult. Urinary incontinence can be a possible complication of surgery.

Some drugs with numerous side effects are being used to treat advanced prostate cancer, blocking the production of testosterone, called chemical castration; it has the same result as surgical removal of the testes. Be aware that some men chose natural treatment options and forgo any surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.

Just about all men with prostate cancer survive at least five years after their diagnosis, 93% survive at least 10 years, and 67% survive more than 15 years. Consider sites, such as this one, just a starting point where you can begin to learn about prostate cancer. The one thing that you should not do however is rely on any information obtained from the Internet to make your final decision.

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