Prostate cancer is one of the most highly researched cancers. With all of the information available about prostate cancer and treatment, it is important to know how to find reliable resources.
The prostate is the male sex gland that adds nutrients and fluids for sperm. As men age, the prostate tends to enlarge, which can cause problems with urination. An enlarged prostate is not necessarily an indicator of cancer but often prompts further testing.
“Prostate cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in the prostate gland,” says McFarland Clinic Urologist Damon Dyche, MD. “One in six men will develop prostate cancer, making it the second leading cause of cancer death in men.”
Age, family history and race are important risk factors for the disease. Prostate cancer becomes more common as men get older. By age 70, more peers will have prostate cancer than those that don’t.
Diagnosis can be difficult since symptoms usually aren’t present in early stages of the disease.Regular prostate screening should begin at age 40. Initial tests can include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate-specific antigen test (PSA).
“A PSA test is used to measure prostate-specific antigens in the blood. An elevated PSA triggers a biopsy of the prostate,” says Dr Dyche. “After the tissue is removed it is analyzed to confirm the diagnosis and determine the extent of the cancer.”
Normally prostate cancer grows very slowly; most men will live for 10-15 years after the initial diagnosis. In general, treatment is guided by age. Treatment for localized prostate cancer includes:
- Active Surveillance – actively monitor the disease by repeated PSA/DRE exams and biopsies, no actual treatment is received, ages 70+
- Radiation – kills cells but does not remove them, can be done using external beam or brachytherapy (implanted “seeds”), ages 50-70
- Surgery – removes the prostate and cancer cells, minimally invasive da Vinci® surgery available, ages 50-70
- Cryotherapy/hormone therapy – kills or inhibits growth of cancer cells, ages 70+
“In treatment our goal is to improve the survival of patients through cancer control, all while minimizing side effects,” says Dr Dyche. “When choosing treatment people should choose what is best for them.”
Minimally invasive surgery using the da Vinci®surgical system offers patients a faster recovery and return to normal activities after the prostate is removed. Da Vinci® surgery has been used to perform radical prostatectomies for 12-15 years. Dr Dyche is the first physician in Ames to offer this service to men with prostate cancer.
“Patients should choose a urologist that is a doctor and a surgeon, meaning that you should be counseled about all of your available options in order for you to make the best decision.” says Dr Dyche.