Prostate Cancer 101

Before beginning this outline, let me first say that this information is presented from a traditional, conventional approach to the treatment of prostate cancer, not alternative which is what I advocate. These are processes which one can expect if receiving conventional treatment.

Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. It may cause pain, difficulty in urinating, erectile dysfunction and other symptoms and is most often discovered by PSA (prostate specific antigen) screening and less commonly by physical examination or by symptoms.

Prostate cancer is uncommon in men less than 45, but becomes more common with advancing age and the risk can be decreased by modifying known risk factors, such as decreasing intake of animal fat. Prostate cancer is the ninth most common cancer in the world, but is the number one non-skin cancer in United States men.

Treatment options for prostate cancer vary depending on the man’s age, general health and stage of the cancer. Treatment for prostate cancer may involve watchful waiting, surgery, radiation therapy including brachytherapy (prostate brachytherapy) and external beam radiation, High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), chemotherapy, cryosurgery, hormonal therapy, or some combination. Treatments directed at shrinking the cancer often can produce significant pain relief. Treatments are generally given five days a week for about eight weeks. Options vary based on the stage of the tumor. Screening for prostate cancer is controversial because it is not clear if the benefits of screening outweigh the risks of follow-up diagnostic tests and cancer treatments.

PSA is an enzyme measured in the blood that can rise naturally as men age or if prostate abnormalities are present. PSA levels can change for many reasons other than cancer. There is some current concern about the accuracy of the PSA test and its usefulness. An estimated 20 million PSA tests are done per year in North America and possibly 20 million more outside of North America. Two common causes of high PSA levels are enlargement of the prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)) and infection in the prostate (prostatitis).

Scientists recommend a healthy, well balanced diet rich in fiber, and to reduce intake of meat. As people take a more active role in their health care, many are exploring options of care that fall outside the realm of traditional medicine. There is no doubt that what we put into our bodies relates to the health of our cells. It is not clear if prostate cancer can be prevented but a healthful diet rich in vegetables and fruits and low in animal fats may help. This is one of the most important organs of the male anatomy and often gets overlooked around healthy lifestyle issues because it takes a long time for prostate symptoms to appear.

But the good news is that survival rates have improved a great deal. In the past 20 years, 5-year survival rates for all stages of prostate cancer combined have increased from 67% to 99%. If prostate cancer is detected and treated early, the survival rate is high. Like all cancers, the earlier it is found and treated, the greater is the chance of cure and survival.

Prostate cancer often has no symptoms, especially in its beginning stages and finding out your have it may cause you to wonder, as there may be no traces of it in your family history
and treatment should be highly individualized.

All prostate cancer patients should use alternative cancer therapies. In general, they should be used prior to beginning conventional treatment. When the prostate cancer patient is receiving conventional treatment, he should also incorporate alternative therapies in order to reduce the side effects of conventional treatment, improve the results, and possibly allow the patient to be able to discontinue the conventional treatments.