Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among American men. It affects the prostate gland, located near the bladder, and can be identified during routine prostate exams. If this cancer is caught early, it’s treatable. If men ignore the problem and allow it to metastasize, or spread, it can be fatal. Read on to find out about the signs of prostate cancer and available treatments to get educated and ensure that this serious, life-threatening problem doesn’t go unaddressed.
Signs and Symptoms
During the earliest stages of prostate cancer, most men experience no symptoms at all. As the cancer progresses, they may start to experience symptoms similar to those of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), often referred to simply as enlarged prostate. Never ignore these signs, especially if they are coming up for the first time. Men in Myrtle Beach, SC, should schedule appointments with urologists if they experience any of the following symptoms, as they can be signs of cancer.
These are the symptoms most men experience first. Again, don’t be too alarmed about them since they can also indicate benign conditions like enlarged prostate. Just make sure to get them checked out by a specialist as soon as possible.
- Frequent urge to urinate, especially at night
- Weak urine flow
- Interrupted urine flow
- Straining to empty the bladder
- Bloody urine
- Bloody seminal fluid
- Painful ejaculation
- New erectile dysfunction
- Pain or burning with urination
- Discomfort from an enlarged prostate that is most noticeable while seated
Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other urinary conditions like bladder infections. That doesn’t mean patients can afford to ignore them, though. Patient outcomes for prostate cancer are better when the condition is diagnosed early.
Signs the Cancer Has Metastasized
No matter where a cancer starts, if left untreated, it can metastasize. In non-medical terms, that just means it spreads throughout the body, often via the bones. If a man has advanced cancer that has spread outside the prostate gland, he may experience:
- Back pain
- Hip pain
- Thigh pain
- Shoulder pain
- Generalized bone pain
- Peripheral edema
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Changes in bowel movements
Men who are experiencing these more serious symptoms should take action immediately. Schedule a consultation with a urologist for a definitive diagnosis. He or she will help with establishing a treatment plan.
The first step toward treating cancer is to get an accurate diagnosis. Once the doctor has confirmed that his or her patient has prostate cancer, the patient should expect to have an in-depth discussion of treatment options. The best options depend on what stage the cancer is in and whether it has metastasized. Men can read on to find out about treatment options for prostate cancer, but they should always trust the advice of their physicians. In some cases, no treatment may be needed at all.
Men with small, slow-growing cancers that aren’t causing any worrying symptoms often prefer to put off treatment for as long as possible to avoid unpleasant urinary, bowel, and sexual side effects. Active surveillance and watchful waiting are two strategies that allow doctors to monitor their patients’ condition over time to reduce the risks associated with aggressive cancer treatments.
Men who go this route should expect to attend extra urology appointments and undergo periodic biopsies to track the cancer’s growth. If the cancer doesn’t grow, there may be no need for treatment. If it does, the urologist will discuss more aggressive treatment options.
Localized Non-Invasive Therapy
Many cancer treatments produce unwanted side effects that extend beyond the affected areas of the body. Localized therapy, known medically as Tissue Sparing Prostate Ablation (TSPA), helps to avoid unwanted side effects by preventing damage to the sensitive tissues surrounding the tumors. It’s a great option for younger patients who don’t have very aggressive types of cancer and for those who cannot undergo surgery.
TSPA works by creating a Faraday Cage effect to prevent unwanted tissue damage. The process then uses heat to destroy the cancer cells with no incisions or hospital stays required. Most patients who undergo TSPA will be able to return to normal life within just a few days. However, this treatment is not always effective for eradicating more aggressive cancers.
The most common type of surgical intervention for prostate cancer is a radical prostatectomy. Doctors have three ways of performing this surgery: robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, retropubic open radical prostatectomy, or laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. No matter which of these surgical interventions are used, the results are the same. Men who undergo this surgery will have their prostates removed and their urinary tracts reconstructed.
Expect to have a catheter and one to two suction drains placed during the surgery. They will be left in place while the new connections heal, although the drains may be removed before discharge. If a man’s cancer has not metastasized, a radical prostatectomy should remove 100% of the tumor. This is a good choice for men with aggressive forms of cancer that have not yet spread beyond their prostates.
If the cancer has spread beyond the prostate, chemotherapy and radiation may be required in addition to cancer surgery. Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells, while radiation uses radio waves to achieve the same goal. The side effects of chemotherapy and radiation can be quite unpleasant, but there are few other options for patients who require system-wide treatment. Other systemic treatments can include hormone therapy, immunotherapy, and bone-modifying drugs.
Schedule an Exam
Men who are experiencing the symptoms of prostate cancer, or who just want to be proactive about their urology care, should schedule an appointment with a specialist. Atlantic Urology Clinics can help. Our highly trained and well-respected specialists have seen it all when it comes to urological conditions. Atlantic Urology Clinics’ practitioners also have the skill, experience, and access to the technologically advanced equipment required to offer a full range of treatment options. Browse the website to learn more or call today to schedule an exam.