The best way to fight prostate cancer is by understanding it
A diagnosis of prostate cancer is certainly up setting for any man. But if his knowledge of this type of cancer is limited, it can possibly set him on the wrong track of knowing how best to fight it.
Figuring out what needs to be known about prostate cancer can be overwhelming, with decisions to be made, treatment options to consider and not knowing what the future holds.
To beat back the second leading cause of cancer in American males behind only skin cancer, men need to arm themselves with adequate knowledge of what exactly prostate cancer is.
The more a man knows and understands what prostate cancer is and knows what he is dealing with, the more he can take charge of his condition and vastly improve his chances of defeating it in the end.
Prostate gland and prostate cancer statistics
The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive system which sits below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Its function is to produce a fluid that contributes to the formation of semen. Normally the size of a walnut in younger men, the prostate can grow much larger as a man ages.
Prostate cancer is when cells in the prostate gland grow uncontrollably. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) approximately 14% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2010-2012 data.
This cancer is considered a fairly common one for men, with estimates in 2017 of 161,360 new cases being diagnosed. An estimated 26,730 men will die from the disease.
However, if prostate cancer is discovered in its early stages, it has a 98.9% survival rate as reported from the NCI.
Each individual patient's prostate cancer treatment depends on many factors — the man's age, overall health, staging of the cancer and its location.
Tailoring a treatment plan best suited for each patient's unique needs is necessary to have the best outcome. When the options available are thoroughly explained, a man and his physician will be better prepared to choose the one right for him
The best defense is to have a game plan of good offense when it comes to prostate cancer.
Men need to have yearly exams to assess what is going on with their prostate. A simple rectal exam which takes less than a minute and a yearly PSA blood test starting at age 40 are good screening tools urologists use to detect any changes in the prostate gland.
Not getting screened is unwise, as a man will be missing his opportunity to catch any changes before it's too late
The outcome of the rectal exam and PSA blood test, will determine what the next steps are. While the PSA test and rectal exam are not perfect, when performed regularly they still remain the best way to detect prostate cancer.
If abnormalities are found with either the rectal exam or the PSA test, from there the doctor may decide to do a prostate biopsy in which a urologist obtains tissue samples from the prostate gland.
Those samples of tissue are sent to a pathologist to screen the size, shape, and pattern of growth of possible cancer cells, and he or she will assign what is called a Gleason score.
The Gleason score is used to describe the aggressiveness of the cancer cells and to predict prognosis and to determine what therapy is best for the patient.
Once the initial diagnostic findings (PSA, Gleason score, rectal exam) are sorted out, from there it will be determined if further imaging tests are required. The imaging tests could be the use of a computed tomography (CT) scan used to determine if cancer has spread outside of the prostate, particularly to the lymph nodes.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is another imaging test using strong magnets to look for cancer that has spread through the edge of the prostate.
After any imaging testing is completed, treatment options will be decided depending on what stage the cancer is in. One option a man and his doctor may decide to pursue is called active surveillance. This is the decision not to treat prostate cancer at the time of diagnosis based on the man's age, health condition and the rate of growth of the cancer.
If the cancer needs to be treated more aggressively, there are several methods of therapy to consider, all depending again on each individual man's prostate cancer, the expected rate of growth, staging and other factors.
The doctor may decide to choose one type of therapy or a combination to beat back the cancer. His choices range from the da Vinci prostatectomy, radiation therapy, Cyberknife SBRT procedure, IMRT procedure, seed implant procedure, or hormone therapy.
Every man needs to become his own health advocate by becoming familiar with the risk factors and possible signs and symptoms of prostate cancer. If something doesn't seem right, men should seek out advice and help from their doctor.
The best way to fight off this potential killer is to get regular checkups, understand the prostate and prostate cancer, and to find a urologist who will guide you through the battle every step of the way.
(Patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer can contact world-renowned prostate cancer surgeon and urologic oncologist, Dr. David Samadi. For a consultation and to learn more about prostate cancer risk, call 212-365-5000.)
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, SamadiMD.com and Facebook