The American Cancer Society estimates that doctors will diagnose around 233,000 new prostate cancer cases by the end of 2014. Malignant cancer cells develop in prostate tissues among older men primarily. The median age for diagnosis is around 66. This disease occurs rarely before the age of 40. About one of every seven American men will experience prostate cancer. But only around one in 36 will die from this common cancer type. Over 2.5 million United States residents who received prostate cancer diagnoses still are alive today.
A study by Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute researchers found that patients receiving prostate cancer treatment at Grady Hospital of Atlanta, Georgia, had poor comprehension of key prostate health terms. Less than 50 percent of patients grasped the meaning of “impotence”, under one-third were aware of the definitions for “bowel habits” and “urinary function,” and only 15 percent knew what “incontinence” means. These disappointing results prompted the same Winship authors to conduct breakthrough research. Their new video-based tool helped prostate cancer patients increase their understanding of vital terms that are essential to making treatment decisions.
Senior author and urologist Viraj Master, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, a researcher in both studies, reported that the previous results identified the need for better access to critical healthcare information among the many men dealing with prostate cancer. It compelled the investigators to seek solutions for patients’ severe comprehension deficiencies. They created a software application combining animation with narration of 26 common terms concerning urinary, bowel, and sexual functions that doctors and their medical staffs use routinely when discussing prostate cancer with patients.
Master’s research team recruited subjects from two low-income clinics. They tested the patients’ initial knowledge and changes after watching the video. The men started with seventh- or eighth-grade literacy levels. After the video intervention, the investigators reported significant comprehension improvementfor most terms including “bowels” (which went from 14 to 46 percent), “incontinence” (14 to 50 percent), and “impotence” (58-84 percent). Additional improvements included “prostate function” understanding (11-30 percent) and patients’ abilities to indicate the prostate’s location on anatomic illustrations (50-82 percent).
This study showed that audiovisual tools could enhance patient understanding of crucial prostate health jargon in beneficial ways. The researchers hope the vocabulary toolkit’s success will increase patient participation and help them make well-informed decisions concerning their various treatment options. The team will continue studying this tool at additional treatment facilities to improve it.
Your prostate gland contributes to the male reproductive system by making fluid that is included in semen. Prostate cancer and other conditions can cause similar symptoms. As you age, your prostate might enlarge until it blocks your bladder or urethra. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can make urinating difficult and cause sexual problems. Your doctor can run tests to distinguish cancer from different prostate conditions.
The National Cancer Institute advises seeking prompt diagnosis and treatment if you experience any of these symptoms:
Weak or intermittent urine flow
Sudden urges to urinate
Urinary frequency, especially overnight
Difficulty starting your urine flow
Troubles emptying your bladder completely
Burning or pain during urination
Blood in your urine or semen
Back, hip, or pelvis pains that won’t go away
Exhaustion, shortness of breath, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, or pale skin
After receiving your prostate cancer diagnosis and stage, your doctor will discuss your treatment options. The American Cancer Society suggests basing your choice on various factors including your age, life expectancy, additional health problems, and your cancer’s stage. Take your doctor’s recommendation and your feelings regarding the necessity of treatment into account. Consider the odds of each method eradicating your cancer or offering other benefits.
Treatment types include:
Active surveillance: Your doctor will use screening tests to monitor your prostate cancer closely. Some progress so slowly that they never achieve levels of concern. You may need treatment if your tumor grows or symptoms occur.
Hormone therapy: Prescription hormone antagonists like Zytiga(Abiraterone Acetate) prevent your cancer cells from obtaining the androgens, or male hormones, that they require to continue growing. Your doctor might add Prednisone, a corticosteroid, especially if your prostate cancer spreads.
Cryosurgery or cryotherapy: This freezing approach treats early-stage prostate cancer. Your doctor passes cold gases through needles that he places in you prostate to destroy the gland. During a typical three-week recovery period, you will empty your bladder into a catheter.
Radiation: Two options, external and internal or brachytherapy radiation, use high-energy rays to destroy your cancer.
Chemotherapy: If your cancer spreads, or metastasizes, to other organs, chemotherapy is a good choice. Injected or oral anti-cancer drugs enter your bloodstream and travel throughout your body to treat additional areas. Doctors prescribe chemo in cycles with rest periods in between.
Surgery: Prostatectomy involves a surgeon removing your prostate and perhaps some surrounding tissues.
Vaccine: A custom vaccine uses your white blood cells to treat advanced cancer with few to no symptoms. Unlike traditional vaccinations that boost your immune system to inhibit infectious diseases, prostate cancer serum triggers your body’s defenses to attack your prostate cancer cells. Your doctor will repeat intravenous infusions several times.