Prostate cancer is curable in most cases, but its stage needs to be determined first and then see what treatment is best suited. The options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, the latter with several alternatives and very promising results (such as CyberKnife), and in the meantime, some natural supplements reviews might be helpful as well.
You may not be aware of this, but prostate cancer is actually the most common type of cancer that can be found among men. Anyone who is dealing with such a situation has one main initial question, namely whether it is curable. The good part is that the answer is “Yes” in most cases.
The majority of the cases are discovered in the early stages of the condition (over 90%) and this makes the treatments more effective, given that the body is a lot more likely to respond well. Furthermore, you should know that the treatment doesn’t always mean chemotherapy or surgery, and there are non-invasion types of radiation therapy that can treat this disease.
Before going into more details on what types of treatment are available for various cases, let’s first take a look at a few facts about prostate cancer and survival rates.
A few details
The first thing that anyone needs to understand is that when doctors say that someone is “cured” from cancer, this means that the patient has remained cancer-free for a certain period once the treatment is over. In some cases, this can mean five years, but it all depends on particular cases and on what approach is chosen together with the doctor.
However, as former patients remain cancer-free after having dealt with a particular type of cancer, this means that the curability rate of it is increasing. With this in mind, it’s good to know that prostate cancer has one of the highest curability rates encountered among the various types of this condition.
According to data gathered by specialists, more than 90% of men who have been diagnosed with this disease live for at least five years or longer once the treatment is over, which means that it’s among the most curable types of cancer.
One of the first things that need to be done once a patient was diagnosed is determining which stage the condition is in, as this has a direct impact on prognosis and the course of treatment that is going to be followed. The common staging protocol used by most doctors in the United States is one of the American Joint Committee on Cancer.
There are several stages and levels within this protocol, each one corresponding to a certain type of situation. T stages are rated on a scale from 1 to 4 in which T1 indicates tumors that can be detected only through imaging or biopsy, while T4 shows that cancer has spread to local tissue.
Another types of stages are the N ones, and these are rated with X, 0, and 1, where X indicates that the patient’s lymph nodes were not examined, 0 shows that cancer has not spread, while 1 means that cancer cells have been identified in nearby lymph nodes.
The next stages are the M ones, and these come with various levels as well. Rated with either M0, M1a, M1b, and M1c, this phasing takes into account the local area and the lymph nodes, altogether. M0 means that the cancer has not yet spread beyond regional lymph nodes, which is always a good thing.
M1a shows that the disease has reached the lymph nodes, while M1b indicates that it went over to the bones, while M1c means that it is present in other organs as well. Besides evaluating the size of the tumor and the stage and spreading level of the cancer cells, the staging process also depends on the Gleason score and PSA level.
These show the likelihood of the disease to spread and compare prostate tissue with a healthy one. Once all of the data is gathered, the doctors determine the stage taking every aspect into account and then establish the recommended course of action.
Types of treatment
Depending on what is determined during the staging protocol, doctors can choose from a number of treatments, including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy which can be either brachytherapy or external. If you’ve never heard of brachytherapy it’s probably a good thing since it means you are probably healthy.
What it means is that radiation is delivered internally by wires that are directly implanted in the affected areas. External radiation therapy, on the other hand, is CyberKnife, a technology that is currently considered as one of the most effective and safest options for men that discover the condition in the early stages.
This treatment is non-invasive and pain-free, and has fewer unpleasant side effects but the same efficiency rate as radical prostatectomy. Some of those who opt to go with CyberKnife are actually able to avoid surgery and chemotherapy altogether. This procedure is also known as EBRT (external body radiation therapy).
The Pasadena CyberKnife center allows patients to have complete radiation therapy in just a few days, compared to the several weeks usually needed for traditional therapy, and 1 to 5 sessions can be enough, as opposed to the large number of sessions (between 35 and 43) needed in other types of radiation therapy.
This treatment obviously involves having the prostate removed, as well as some of the surrounding healthy tissue. Here as well there are several options the patient can choose from, the main ones being radical prostatectomy or laparoscopic prostatectomy.
Radical prostatectomy is an invasive procedure which means that the entire gland and other adjacent areas are removed. Depending on multiple factors and on how the surgery is performed, the sexual function might be affected during this procedure, and urinary incontinence can be another side effect that can be later solved through another surgery.
The laparoscopic (or robotic) procedure is much less invasive and it usually has a shorter recovery time. Cameras and instruments are used to intervene within the tissue to remove the gland and the affected surrounding tissue. Less pain and less bleeding are usually associated with this choice, but the same urinary and sexual side effects can be caused.
Those who want to know what the right approach is should definitely discuss all options with a specialist to understand what the prospects are and what side effects might appear. Of course, younger men are more likely to respond well to surgery and less likely to develop serious side effects.
Radiation therapy means using high-energy rays to tackle and destroy cancer cells, and the specialist who gives these procedures is called a radiation oncologist. There are several types of radiation therapy that can effectively treat prostate cancer.
The most common type is the external-beam radiation therapy during which the doctor uses a machine that is placed outside the body and that focuses a beam of x-rays on the affected area. Something called conformal radiation therapy (CRT), it is used by some centers, and during this procedure, the computer precisely maps out the shape and location of the cancer-affected area.
The main benefit of CRT is that it reduces damage to healthy organs and tissues by accurately directing the radiation beam to focus on the tumor and the immediately surrounding areas. Another method is called the EBRT, which we’ve covered above and which is also called hypofractionated radiation therapy.
What happens during this procedure is that the patient receives a higher dose of radiation therapy over a short time, instead of a lower one over a longer period. This has proven effective especially for those patients with early-stage prostate cancer that has remained localized when the treatment began.
Those who receive hypofractionated radiation therapy have a somewhat higher chance to develop short-term side effects, compared to those who are going through the regular EBRT procedure. These include gastrointestinal side effects, but based on what the current research has shown, the risk of long-term side effects remains the same in both cases.
No matter the situation, you should take your time and do a yearly check-up just to make sure that everything is ok. In case you suspect that something is not the way it should be when it comes to the prostate, you need to set up an appointment with your doctor and see what investigations should be done.
It’s always easier to treat anything from the earliest stage possible.