The prostate gland is a small, walnut-sized structure that makes up part of a man’s reproductive system. It affects how a man urinates, how he obtains an erection, and it also helps to produce semen. Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor that forms in the prostate gland. This particular cancer usually grows slowly and typically produces little symptoms until it progresses. It is important to catch it early so that prostate cancer treatment can be pursued.
Prostate cancer can usually be detected with a PSA test or a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) during a routine physical. However, PSA tests are not always offered as a part of a physical. If you PSA are elevated or your DRE is abnormal a prostate biopsy is performed. If cancer is detected through the prostate biopsy, the cancer will be graded using the Gleason system. This system assigns a number from 2 to 10 based on how much the cells in the cancerous tissue look like normal prostate tissue. If the cancerous tissue looks mostly like normal prostate tissue, a low grade is assigned. If the cancer lacks these normal features and its cells seem to be spread haphazardly through the prostate, it is given a high score.
If prostate cancer is caught at its earliest stages, most men will not experience any symptoms. However, some men will experience symptoms that might indicate the presence of prostate cancer, including:
- Difficulty urinating
- A need to urinate frequently
- A weak and/or painful urine flow
- Difficulty getting or obtaining an erection
- Painful ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen;
- Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.
These symptoms can also indicate the presence of many other diseases or disorders, such as enlarged prostate (BPH) or prostatitis. Therefore, men who experience any of these symptoms will undergo a thorough work-up to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms.
Once prostate cancer has been confirmed and after it has been staged, it’s important to discuss all of the treatment options that are available with your urologist. The treatment you choose for prostate cancer should take into account:
- Age and life span remaining
- Any and all serious health conditions aside from the cancer
- The stage and grade of the cancer
- The side effects associated with certain treatments
- There are several different types of treatment available for patients with prostate cancer. Some treatments are widely used and some are being tested in clinical trials
Some patients will choose watchful waiting, which means that the prostate cancer will be closely monitored without giving any treatment This is usually used in older men with other medical problems and early-stage disease.
Patients who are in good health can have surgery to remove the prostate. This is called a prostatectomy. Potential side effects of surgery are impotence and incontinence. In some cases, doctors can use a technique known as nerve-sparing surgery. This type of surgery may save the nerves that control erection. Prostatectomies are performed via open-surgery and through a laparascopic approach or robotic surgical techniques. Men should talk to their physician about the different techniques.
Radiation is an effective treatment for localized prostate cancer.
For additional resources regarding prostate cancer and prostate cancer treatment including the robotic prostatectomy, or to schedule an appointment at our Plano, Richardson and Frisco locations, call 972.612.8037. To schedule an appointment at our McKinney location, call 972.548.8195.