Prostate cancer is the single most common cancer among men and is the third leading cause of cancer death. Prostate cancer remains a significant public health problem with considerable social and economic consequences. It is important for physicians to have a general understanding of prostate cancer to help not only the patients but also their families. This essay will deal with the diagnosis and treatment methods available for prostate cancer.
The disease, prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancerous cells form in the tissues of the prostate. Found especially in older men, prostate cancer may get bigger and block the urethra and this may cause difficultly in urination or sexual activities. Although not a cancer condition, this condition is the condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP) and surgery may be needed to correct it (National Cancer Institute).
Diagnosis of prostate cancer
Debate on earlier screening of the disease has been controversial while some doctors opposing the earlier screening. Most doctors do not agree whether early-stage tumors do pose a risk of being aggressive and whether need treatment or whether the tumors should be left alone. The reason is that early screening for detection may lead to unnecessary and invasive treatment (National Cancer Institute). Diagnosis of prostate cancer is followed by a combination of history taking into consideration a physical examination, the PSA test and prostate biopsy. Cancer of the prostate is usually detected by a hardness area in the gland although it does not mean that hard areas imply cancer (Andriole, Gerald L. and Catalona William J., 1991).
According to Nigel and Feleney (2009), DRE is the primary test for initial clinical testing of the disease. The method easily detects non-PSA secreting tumors. However DRE usually detects advanced cancer with only fair reproducibility. The other diagnosis method is the PSA test which tests the amount of prostate-specific antigen. Other methods like transrectal ultrasonography (TRUS) and biopsies are used. TRUS provides imaging diagnostic modality for prostate cancer and is used for detection of the disease in later stages. The method detects cancer by accurately guiding needle biopsies and maps them to specific regions of the prostate (Borley Nigel and Feneley, Mark R., 2008). Attempts to increase the accuracy of TRUS, Pinthus, Jehonathan H. et al gives the many technologies that have been tried including color Doppler, power Doppler and 3D ultra-sound imaging. The argument is that these methods will increase the detection and thus improve biopsy. (Pinthus, Jehonathan H. et al).
Treatment of prostate cancer
Treatment options for prostate cancer vary depending on the stage of the disease and the patient's choice. Patient choice is because treatment can alter men's physical appearance, sexual experience and function, fertility and urinary function.
Watchful waiting means that the disease is carefully monitored although not immediately treated. The process acknowledges that prostate cancer is growing. According to EhealthMD, watchful waiting is especially helpful to men aged over 80 years.
According to ehealthMD, it postulates the many treatments available for prostate cancer. In earlier stages of the disease, treatment involves surgery and radiation therapy. Surgery is usually recommended through evaluation and discussion of the benefits as well as the risks involved. But this surgery option is adopted if cancer has not spread beyond the prostate gland (called the radical prostatectomy) although problems such as difficulty controlling urine movements may be experienced. Radiation therapy involves the use of radioactive waves to kill cancer cells and works best if cancer has not spread outside the prostate. Radiation can also be used for pain relief if cancer has moved to the bones (EhealthMD).
Hormone therapy involves the treatment that removes hormones or blocks their action and stops cancer cells from growing. This is because prostate cancer feeds on hormone testosterone and thus reducing the hormone will slow growth of the cells. The method is used mainly with the aim of achieving castration and improving survival through testosterone suppression as prostate cancer (EhealthMD).
Chemotherapy uses chemicals to kill the cancerous cells and is only used when cancer has spread beyond the prostate. Cryotherapy uses ultra sound probe inserted into the rectum to produce a picture on the screen of a computer. Probes are inverted through the rectum and scrotum to help deliver liquid nitrogen to the prostate which freezes the tissues and help kill cancer cells (EhealthMD).
Prostate cancer is a significant public health problem all over the world and with statistics, the incidence is likely to increase especially with an ageing population. Nurses are well placed to diagnose the disease as they come into contact with these patients. Earlier diagnosis and treatment will greatly help in prostate cancer reduction. For cancer treatment, it depends on several factors including a man's age, his general health, stage of the disease, location and his personal choice. Men are generally advised to know about their state and available treatment options.