Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy in American men.
Incidence of prostate cancer increases with age.
According to the American Cancer Society, men aged 50 or older should be offered a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a PSA blood test. However, it is a good idea to visit your doctor earlier to establish a baseline PSA level so you can monitor changes.
Prostate cancer is most often diagnosed through a blood test measuring the amount of prostate specific antigens (PSA) in the body. However, signs and symptoms of prostate cancer can include:
After a diagnosis of prostate cancer has been established with a biopsy, the patient should discuss the treatment options with a radiation oncologist and a urologist. Radiation therapy treatment options to cure prostate cancer include:
External beam radiation therapy involves a series of daily outpatient treatments to accurately deliver radiation to the prostate.
There are two principal methods for delivering external beam radiation.
Potential side effects, including fatigue, increased frequency or discomfort of urination, and loose stools, typically resolve within a few weeks after completing treatments. Impotence is also a potential side effect of any treatment for prostate cancer. However, many patients who receive radiation therapy for prostate cancer are able to maintain sexual function.
Prostate brachytherapy, better known as a seed implant, is often done in the operating room.
There are two methods of delivering internal radiation for prostate cancer:
The side effects from seed implants are similar to those experienced with external beam radiotherapy. Patients usually experience urinary frequency and discomfort in urination. These effects may be lessened with medication and usually dissipate over the course of three to six months.
In a few parts of the country, proton beam therapy is being used to treat prostate cancer.
Proton therapy is administered much the same way as external beam therapy, but it uses protons rather than x-rays to irradiate cancer cells.
Certain patients may benefit from hormone therapy in addition to radiation. In some patients, hormone therapy works with radiation therapy to improve cure rates.