Surgery and treatment options for prostate cancer

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The PSA test that reveals the level of prostate-specific antigen in the body is one method of early detection of prostate enlargement or prostate cancer in men. The blood test helps in monitoring prostate health well before the enlargement manifests itself as urinary symptoms.

While benign growths are more manageable with an improved diet, herbs for prostate enlargement, conventional prostate medicine and Alternative Remedies, prostate cancer is a radically different situation altogether. Treatment options for prostate cancer depend largely on the stage to which it has advanced.

Radical prostatectomy is the surgical removal of the entire gland and the neighboring lymph nodes. To facilitate easy flow of urine after surgery, a rubber tube is inserted through the penis into the bladder till the area heals properly. Although radical prostatectomy cures the disease completely as the nearby lymph nodes are also removed, surgery is never totally safe. Some of the risks include:

* Excessive loss of blood.
* Loss of bladder control.
* Accidental leakage of urine while coughing or laughing and lifting heavy objects.
* Impotence and Erectile Dysfunction.

The risks associated with this type of surgery are directly related to the health and age of the patient. Considering the small percentage of men who actually develop these post operative symptoms, the benefits of radical prostatectomy far outweigh the risks involved.

Another option that men with prostate cancer can take is radiation therapy, which can be administered in two different ways. In the first method an x-ray bean is targeted externally at the affected area. In the second, known as seed therapy or brachytherapy, radioactive pellets are injected into the prostate gland.

External radiation does not require anesthesia and is relatively safer than seed therapy but it is more time consuming and involves regular and repeated treatment for five days a week over a period of seven weeks.

Seed therapy, on the other hand requires only one hospital visit and limited anesthesia. It injects a higher dose of radiation directly into the cancerous area but it does make you feel more uncomfortable after the treatment for some time.

About one third of those having undergone radiation therapy carry risks and side effects such as:

* The possibility of a reoccurrence after some years as the prostate and the lymph nodes remain in the body.
* Urinary bleeding, Burning Sensation and Frequent Urination.
* Rectal bleeding, discomfort and Diarrhea.
* Impotency (relative incidence after two years in approximately 50% of the cases)

Normally, tumors that have moved outwards, outside the walls of the gland, are treated with hormonal therapy as neither surgery nor radiation produce significant results. The male hormone testosterone is believed to help the cancer cells grow in the prostate.

Hormonal therapy is used to reduce production of the hormone. Even though patients usually respond favorably within a year or two, chances of recurrence are always present. No treatment can cure prostate cancer after hormonal therapy stops showing positive results.

Prostate cancer is not an aggressive disease and in many cases the size of the tumor is very small and grows slowly. Many men with prostate cancer survive as long as those without the cancer. This is the main reason behind the popularity of ‘watchful waiting’ theory when it comes to treating prostate cancer.

However, regular visits to your doctor for periodic PSA tests, rectal examination or biopsy to monitor the growth is necessary.

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