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What Do They Do If You Have Prostate Cancer

Intermittent Versus Continuous Hormone Therapy

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Most prostate cancers treated with hormone therapy become resistant to this treatment over a period of months or years. Some doctors believe that constant androgen suppression might not be needed, so they advise intermittent treatment. This can allow for a break from side effects like decreased energy, sexual problems, and hot flashes.

In one form of intermittent hormone therapy, treatment is stopped once the PSA drops to a very low level. If the PSA level begins to rise, the drugs are started again. Another form of intermittent therapy uses hormone therapy for fixed periods of time for example, 6 months on followed by 6 months off.

At this time, it isnt clear how this approach compares to continuous hormone therapy. Some studies have found that continuous therapy might help men live longer, but other studies have not found such a difference.

What Is The Prognosis For People Who Have Prostate Cancer

Because prostate cancer tends to grow slowly, most men die from something other than the disease. Early detection is key to better outcomes. Almost all men 97% to 98% diagnosed with localized cancer that hasnt spread outside of the prostate live at least five years after diagnosis. When metastatic cancer has spread outside of the gland, one-third of men continue to survive after five years.

Positron Emission Tomography Scan

A PET scan is similar to a bone scan, in that a slightly radioactive substance is injected into the blood, which can then be detected with a special camera. But PET scans use different tracers that collect mainly in cancer cells. The most common tracer for standard PET scans is FDG, which is a type of sugar. Unfortunately, this type of PET scan isnt very useful in finding prostate cancer cells in the body.

However, newer tracers, such as fluciclovine F18, sodium fluoride F18, and choline C11, have been found to be better at detecting prostate cancer cells.

Other newer tracers, such as Ga 68 PSMA-11 and 18F-DCFPyl , attach to prostate-specific membrane antigen , a protein that is often found in large amounts on prostate cancer cells. Tests using these types of tracers are sometimes referred to as PSMA PET scans.

These newer types of PET scans are most often used if its not clear if prostate cancer has spread. For example, one of these tests might be done if the results of a bone scan arent clear, or if a man has a rising PSA level after initial treatment but its not clear where the cancer is in the body.

The pictures from a PET scan arent as detailed as MRI or CT scan images, but they can often show areas of cancer anywhere in the body. Some machines can do a PET scan and either an MRI or a CT scan at the same time, which can give more detail about areas that show up on the PET scan.

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Treatment To Lower Testicular Androgen Levels

Androgen deprivation therapy, also called ADT, uses surgery or medicines to lower the levels of androgens made by the testicles.

Orchiectomy

Even though this is a type of surgery, its main effect is as a form of hormone therapy. In this operation, the surgeon removes the testicles, where most of the androgens are made. This causes most prostate cancers to stop growing or shrink for a time.

This is done as an outpatient procedure. It is probably the least expensive and simplest form of hormone therapy. But unlike some of the other treatments, it is permanent, and many men have trouble accepting the removal of their testicles. Because of this, they may choose treatment with drugs that lower hormone levels instead.

Some men having this surgery are concerned about how it will look afterward. If wanted, artificial testicles that look much like normal ones can be inserted into the scrotum.

LHRH agonists

Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists are drugs that lower the amount of testosterone made by the testicles. Treatment with these drugs is sometimes called medical castration because they lower androgen levels just as well as orchiectomy.

With these drugs, the testicles stay in place, but they will shrink over time, and they may even become too small to feel.

  • Leuprolide mesylate

LHRH antagonists

Possible side effects

Many side effects of hormone therapy can be prevented or treated. For example:

Surgically Removing The Prostate Gland

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A radical prostatectomy is the surgical removal of your prostate gland. This treatment is an option for curing prostate cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate or has not spread very far.

Like any operation, this surgery carries some risks, such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

In extremely rare cases, problems arising after surgery can be fatal.

It’s possible that prostate cancer can come back again after treatment. Your doctor should be able to explain the risk of your cancer coming back after treatment, based on things like your PSA level and the stage of your cancer.

Studies have shown that radiotherapy after prostate removal surgery may increase the chances of a cure, although research is still being carried out into when it should be used after surgery.

You may want to ask your doctors about storing a sperm sample before the operation so it can be used later for in vitro fertilisation .

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Side Effects Of Radical Prostatectomy

The most common side effects of the procedure are incontinence and erectile dysfunction . The incontinence, though common early after surgery, usually goes away. Whether erectile function returns depends on whether the nerves surrounding the prostate can be spared at surgery, patient age and baseline function. Men who are older or already have erection problems are most likely to have erectile dysfunction afterward.

For more information on erectile dysfunction and treatment, see Managing Erectile Dysfunction A Patient Guide.

What Are The Treatments For Prostate Cancer

Your treatment options usually depend on your age, your general health, and how serious the cancer is. Your treatment may include one or more of options:

  • Observation,which is mostly used if you are older, your prostate cancer isn’t likely to grow quickly, and you don’t have symptoms or you have other medical conditions. Your doctor will keep checking on your cancer over time so to see whether you will need to start treatment for the cancer. There are two types of observation:
  • Watchful waiting means having little or no testing. If symptoms begin or change, you will get treatment to relieve them, but not to treat the cancer.
  • Active surveillance means having regular tests to see if your prostate cancer has changed. If the tests show the cancer is starting to grow or if you develop symptoms, then you will have treatment to try to cure the cancer.
  • Surgery to remove your prostate gland may be an option if your cancer hasn’t spread outside of your prostate.
  • Radiation therapy uses high energy to kill cancer cells or prevent them from growing.
  • Hormone therapy blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow. It may include taking medicines or having surgery to remove the testicles.
  • Chemotherapy uses medicines to kill cancer cells, slow their growth, or stop them from spreading. You might take the drugs by mouth, as an injection , as a cream, or intravenously .
  • Immunotherapy helps your own immune system to fight cancer.
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    How Is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed

    A biopsy is when a small piece of tissue is removed from the prostate and looked at under a microscope.

    A biopsy is a procedure that can be used to diagnose prostate cancer. A biopsy is when a small piece of tissue is removed from the prostate and looked at under a microscope to see if there are cancer cells.

    A Gleason score is determined when the biopsy tissue is looked at under the microscope. If there is a cancer, the score indicates how likely it is to spread. The score ranges from 2 to 10. The lower the score, the less likely it is that the cancer will spread.

    A biopsy is the main tool for diagnosing prostate cancer, but a doctor can use other tools to help make sure the biopsy is made in the right place. For example, doctors may use transrectal ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging to help guide the biopsy. With transrectal ultrasound, a probe the size of a finger is inserted into the rectum and high-energy sound waves are bounced off the prostate to create a picture of the prostate called a sonogram. MRI uses magnets and radio waves to produce images on a computer. MRI does not use any radiation.

    When Is Hormone Therapy Used

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    Hormone therapy may be used:

    • If the cancer has spread too far to be cured by surgery or radiation, or if you cant have these treatments for some other reason
    • If the cancer remains or comes back after treatment with surgery or radiation therapy
    • Along with radiation therapy as the initial treatment, if you are at higher risk of the cancer coming back after treatment
    • Before radiation to try to shrink the cancer to make treatment more effective

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    Ask Your Prostate Surgeon The Right Questions

    The choice of prostate cancer treatment depends on such factors as age and general health, as well as a patients risk categorization determined by their Gleason score. The Gleason score, a way of estimating how likely the cancer is to spread, is determined based on a biopsy sample. Gleason risk groups range from low/very low to intermediate to high/very high.

    First, you need as much information as possible about your prostate cancer. Yale Medicine has an Active Surveillance Program that uses advanced imaging and real-time ultrasound to monitor and biopsy suspicious lesions. Many patients in the program who have a low-grade form of prostate cancer never need surgery, Dr. Sprenkle says.

    For men who do need surgery, there are at least three questions they should be sure to ask the surgeon, he adds. The first is which surgical approach is going to provide the best control of the cancer? The second is which approach will have the fewest side effects? The third is which approach tends to have the swiftest recovery, the quickest hospital stay, and fastest return to function?

    “Its better to focus on finding the right surgeon rather than the approach or type of surgery,” says Yale Medicine urologist Preston Sprenkle, MD.

    My Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

    I was diagnosed two years ago, at the relatively young age of 51, after a routine PSA test. I had no symptoms, no urinary issues and no troubles in the bedroom, as the health magazines carefully refer to it. But I found doctors curiously unwilling to advise me on what to do.

    They load you up with documents about the possible side effects of each treatment option. They direct you to online decision-making tools that ask you questions about how afraid of death you are and how important your sex life is. They make a lot of hand gestures that signal that youre weighing equally heavy things.

    They tell you: yes, I can make pretty sure your cancer doesnt spread. But your quality of life will be diminished forever. Then they ask: you sure you want me to go ahead?

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    How Does The Doctor Know I Have Prostate Cancer

    Prostate cancer tends to grow slowly over many years. Most men with early prostate cancer dont have changes that they notice. Signs of prostate cancer most often show up later, as the cancer grows.

    Some signs of prostate cancer are trouble peeing, blood in the pee , trouble getting an erection, and pain in the back, hips, ribs, or other bones.

    If signs are pointing to prostate cancer, tests will be done. Most men will not need all of them, but here are some of the tests you may need:

    PSA blood test: PSA is a protein thats made by the prostate gland and can be found in the blood. Prostate cancer can make PSA levels go up. Blood tests will be done to see what your PSA level is and how it changes over time.

    Transrectal ultrasound : For this test, a small wand is put into your rectum. It gives off sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off the prostate gland. The echoes are made into a picture on a computer screen.

    MRI: This test uses radio waves and strong magnets to make detailed pictures of the body. MRI scans can be used to look at the prostate and can show if the cancer has spread outside the prostate to nearby organs.

    Prostate biopsy: For a prostate biopsy, the doctor uses a long, hollow needle to take out small pieces of the prostate where the cancer might be. This is often done while using TRUS or MRI to look at the prostate. The prostate pieces are then checked for cancer cells. Ask the doctor what kind of biopsy you need and how its done.

    After A Diagnosis Of Prostate Cancer

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    After finding out you have prostate cancer, you may feel shocked, upset, anxious or confused. These are normal responses. Talk about your treatment options with your doctor, family and friends. Ask questions and seek as much information as you need. It is up to you as to how involved you want to be in making decisions about your treatment.

    After non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australia. In 2016, 19,305 Australian men were diagnosed with prostate cancer.

    Prostate cancer is unusual in that it is slow growing in some men and not a threat, but for others the cancer can be aggressive. Cure rates for prostate cancer are improving, however side-effects of treatment may affect your lifestyle including sexual function and continence.

    To ensure that you receive the best care, your specialist will arrange for a team of health professionals based on your needs and preferences

    Learn more about the best prostate cancer care for each step of your treatment:

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    Should I Use Supplements Or Herbal Remedies

    Some people like to use dietary supplements or herbal remedies, but theres little evidence theyre helpful for men with prostate cancer. Some may even be harmful.

    Dietary supplements

    Theres little evidence that supplements are helpful for men with prostate cancer. Some supplements may interfere with your treatment for prostate cancer, so let your doctor or nurse know if youre taking any.

    Most people should be able to get all the nutrients they need by eating a balanced diet, without taking supplements. If you do choose to take supplements, dont take more than the recommended daily allowance for each nutrient because large doses could be bad for your health.

    Some men may need to take specific supplements. For example,

    • Vitamin D. Between October and March, try to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D supplements every day. This is because during these months, there is not enough sunlight in the UK for your body to produce enough vitamin D.
    • Calcium. If youre on hormone therapy, your doctor might recommend calcium supplements.

    Herbal remedies

    Some men like to take herbal medicines to help manage their prostate cancer or the side effects of treatment. For example, some men drink sage tea to help with hot flushes. But there is very little evidence that herbal remedies can help to treat prostate cancer or reduce side effects.

    Herbal supplements being tested

    When Should You Start Screening

    First, talk to your doctor at your next checkup to go over your particular risk factors. You may have more than one risk factor at play and thus have a greater chance of developing prostate cancer than other men.

    In general, discussions with your doctor about screening for prostate cancer should begin in your 40s. Here are some rough guidelines:

    Do you have family history of prostate,ovarian, breast, colon, or pancreatic cancers,or do you know that gene mutations are present in your family? Discuss screening with your doctor startingaround age 40.

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    When Further Treatment Is Needed

    While prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment have improved significantly in recent years, the cancer can still recur. That’s why it is essential that you and your doctor continue to monitor your PSA on a quarterly basis for some period of time, no matter how successful your treatment seems to be. Patients usually can consider a number of treatment options to treat or control recurrent cancer. Choosing among them requires a new decision-making process.

    How Do I Get Screened

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    The gold-standard test for prostate cancer screening is the PSA test.

    The PSA test measures levels of prostate-specific antigen in the blood. PSA is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate. Because cancerous cells tend to produce more PSA, a spike in your PSA level may signify a problem, however, there are other benign conditions that may cause an uptick in PSA. Read more here about how to make sure your PSA test is as accurate as possible. If youre having a PSA test, it can often be added on to other blood work you may be having that day, and you may not need a separate blood draw.

    Tracking your PSA over time can be valuable to distinguish a temporary increase from a gradual, yet persistent rise. Even if your level is still within normal range, but is higher than it was the last time it was tested, its worth checking further. After a single high PSA result, often the first step is to repeat the test a couple of weeks later to confirm that it is, in fact, elevated. This should be done at the same lab as the previous test, to avoid fluctuations due to different equipment.

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