Prostate Cancer: A Short Overview
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States. Apart from skin cancer, it’s the most common cancer in men. More than two million American men are survivors according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). With early detection, the prostate cancer survival rate is good.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer occurs in the prostate, a gland found only in men. Shaped like a walnut, the prostate produces the semen that protects, nourishes and transports sperm cells. As long as testosterone and other hormones are present, the prostate grows slowly.
Prostate cancer usually grows slowly too, and it’s confined to the gland during early stages. Aggressive forms grow quickly and may spread to other organs. If prostate cancer is detected before it spreads, it has a better change of treatment success.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
During the early stage of disease, there are no prostate cancer symptoms. As the disease advances, men may have trouble urinating. They may find blood in their semen. Discomfort or pain may occur in their bones, particularly in the pelvic region. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is another possible sign of cancer.
Prostate Cancer Tests
Medical organizations disagree on the issue of prostate cancer screening. Some want to test healthy men with no symptoms. Others recommend prostate cancer tests for men in their 50s. Screenings may include a digital rectum exam (DRE) and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.
If the tests reveal an abnormality, a doctor may order an ultrasound or prostate biopsy. Once a diagnosis is made, additional tests help the doctor to stage the cancer. These tests include a bone scan, computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
The treatment for prostate cancer depends on several factors such as how fast the cancer is growing and how much it has spread. Overall health and potential side effects are other things to consider. Immediate treatment is usually unnecessary for early-stage cancer. As the disease progresses, it may require cancer therapy or surgery.
Radiation therapy is a common prostate cancer treatment. Other treatments include hormone therapy, chemotherapy, biological therapy, cryosurgery and prostate removal. Alternative treatments can help men cope with the side effects of cancer treatment.
Prostate Cancer Survival Rate
Doctors use survival rates as a way to discuss a cancer prognosis or outlook. According to data gathered by the ACS, the relative 5-year prostate cancer survival rate is 100 percent. The relative 10-year survival rate is 99 percent, and the relative 15-year rate is 94 percent.