Early detection is important, because cure is often possible only when the cancer is confined to the prostate gland itself. The prostate lies just below the bladder in men and adds nutrients and hormones to sperm. The prostate continues to grow in adult life, and often restricts the flow of urine, causing a slow stream, incomplete emptying, and increased urinary frequency both day and night. These symptoms are so common they are often considered to be normal aging. These symptoms can also be caused by prostate cancer, and early prostate cancer typically causes no symptoms. Routine screening after the age of 40 is therefore required to detect prostate cancer that is confined to the gland and curable. Screening consists of a digital rectal examination (DRE or "finger wave") and a blood test for PSA. Between ages 50 and 70 these tests are generally done annually...more
Grade and Stage: Gleason grade 2-10 describes the microscopic appearance of prostate cancer cells. Near normal appearing cells, grade 2, have near normal behavior, while increasingly abnormal appearing cells have increasingly aggressive behavior. Stage is the extent of disease, its size and location.
Stage I is confined to the prostate and cannot be felt on DRE. Stage II is also confined, but can be felt. Stage III disease is beyond the capsule or lining of the prostate, but not in lymph nodes, while stage IV disease is in lymph nodes or other parts of the body such as bone. Stage is determined by DRE, biopsy, PSA, and if the PSA is above 20 bone scan and other tests such as CT or MRI scan.
Prostatectomy can also be done laparoscopically, with removal of the gland through a small incision. Radiation therapy may also be curative and is often preferred in men over the age of 70 or with a life expectancy of 10 years or less. Complications also include loss of erections and incontinence, as well as bowel and bladder irritation and bleeding. For advanced disease the primary treatment is hormone therapy.
Hormone Treatment: Prostate cancer cells need the male hormone testosterone to grow. Removal of testosterone by removing the testes surgically (castration) or, more commonly, by suppressing testosterone production by medication, causes the cancer to shrink. Studies now show that intermittent hormone therapy reduces the side effects such as muscle and bone loss and may actually be superior to continuous hormone therapy. The PSA is used to determine when hormone treatment is needed again....more
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...... About Prostate Cancer
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Created: 3/15/2005 | Updated: 5/21/2006