Prostate Cancer Treatments
by: Seth Miller
The principle function of the prostrate gland is to secrete seminal fluid, a nutrient for sperm, and eject it into the urethra during ejaculation. As it ages it can become cancerous without any specific cause. For prostrate cancer, this process is commonly a slow one. It goes undetected in its initial stages, and once symptoms start to manifest, it has already advanced into a more critical stage.
Once confirmed as prostrate cancer, it is important to collect all the information that is possible to decide on a course of treatment. The relevant inputs are the age and health condition of the patient, how far the cancer has progressed and how fast it is advancing. There is a computerized nomogram to assess the probability of a cure. The patient, along with the physician and the family, has to opt for the course of treatment that is best for him.
The simplest treatment is Ã¯Â¿Â½watchful waiting.Ã¯Â¿Â½ The treatment concentrates on relieving the symptoms and performing periodical tests like DRE and PSA and others, as required. If the cancer is localized, surgical removal of the prostrate may be the best option. The success rate of this procedure, if caught in the early stages, is very high. But the side effects of this surgery are impotency, the inability to control urination, and other disadvantages associated with a major surgery. Laparoscopic surgery for removal of the prostrate is a new procedure.
Radiation therapy offers a non-invasive treatment, when the cancer is localized or just beyond the prostrate. But there are side effects of radiation therapy. These include injury to the rectum and bladder, bleeding rectum and bladder, urinary problems and burned skin. There are mainly two types of radiation therapy. The external beam radiation therapy uses radiation from outside to attack the cancer cells. Brachy therapy implants a small radioactive seed directly into the tumor to treat it. Cryotherapy is freezing the entire Prostrate with liquid nitrogen and killing it all, including the cancer cells. The urethra is kept heated to save the duct. Hormone deprivation therapy aims to cut off the male hormone testosterone, which is considered a fuel for cancerous cells.
There are many other chemotherapies that are very promising, especially when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, like the bones and lymph nodes. There are over 200 new therapies under development, many of them supported by the Prostrate Cancer Foundation.
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