Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer is a very dangerous disease that until recently did not get nearly the attention it deserved. This is a slow growing tumor at its onset, and its metastitic potential is related to the size degree of differentiation. At the time of diagnosis though most patients have advanced disease. One comparison often made is that this deadly disease is to men what breast cancer is to women. The only difference is that women came out and made breast cancer an issue to be dealt with, while men have held back in embarrassment from discussing prostate cancer issues. Men are embarrassed of this disease for multiple reasons. One reason is that the examination is rather awkward. As Siberner explains, In order to assess whether or not someone has prostate cancer the patient must either kneel, lie on his side, or bend over and the doctor then inserts a gloved finger into the rectum. The doctor presses through the rectal wall against the prostate, feeling for the soft, bulky growth of an enlarged prostate or the small, hard lump of a cancerous tumor (1989). Although this process sounds degrading and uncomfortable it is really simple, quick, and hardly deserving of the dread it seems to produce. And believe it or not it is certainly faster and less uncomfortable than a gynecological exam. The second reason men are so uneasy about discussing prostate cancer is the side affects that can result from surgery or radiation. Many times men are left impotent and without control of their bladders. Most men are not only shying away from discussing this topic, but they are also shying away from receiving the examination all together. According to Siberner, only 208 of 1,017 men in a recent survey by the National Cancer Care Foundation, a nonprofit support group for people with cancer, had had both a physical and a rectal exam during the previous year. These conditions are extremely uncomfortable for men to face and discuss, but if anything is going to be done men need to lay this issue out on the table.
Prognosis for prostate cancer is not very good right now, especially if it not caught at an early stage. The reason for this is because this malignancy spreads so rapidly to nearby organs such as the bladder and rectum. The cancer then invades the lymph and blood vessels and metastasizes to the bone and other organs. This quick spreading is why prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the United States, according to Littrup, Lee, and Mettlin (1992). In fact, roughly 1 man in 11 will get cancer of the prostate and 20 percent of its victims are 65 or younger. This dispels the myth that only older men get prostate cancer says Siberner (1989). As stated earlier, if caught early though there is a good chance it can be stopped and removed before it metastasizes. Hines declares that due to widespread screening with prostate-specific antigen there is more cases of local cancer being diagnosed in men in their 40ís and 50ís, often before the tumor is palpable (1999). The three main treatments for prostate cancer at this early stage are surgery, radiation, and watchful waiting. Surgery requires going into the prostate and removing the cancerous tumor. The main problem with this method is that during surgery the removal of the tumor usually results in the destruction of the nerves that control erections and urination, leaving most men impotent and many incontinent. The second treatment is radiation. There are two types of radiation treatment being used today. One type is external beam; this method requires the patient to go to the hospital for high-energy linear radiation treatments for 5 day a week treatments for 6 to 7 weeks. This usually can effectively wipe out the cancer for many. It is for the most part painless, yet it can irritate the bladder and make urination difficult. It can also cause diarrhea and intestinal ulcers, which eventually do clear up. One advantage of this type of radiation though is that it does not cause hair loss like many other types of radiation. Another type of radiation is brachytherapy. With this type of radiation a source of radiation is implanted into the prostate