When To Talk With A Doctor
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men in the United States and should therefore be a subject that men learn about and address with their doctors once they reach adulthood.
Because prostate cancer is slow growing, regular prostate screenings can often catch the disease in its early stages. The American Cancer Society recommends the following timeframe for initial prostate screenings:
- age 40 for men with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age
- age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer, including African Americans and anyone with a first-degree relative who was diagnosed with cancer younger than 65 years of age
- age 55 to 69 for men who are of average risk of prostate cancer
The issue of prostate cancer screenings is a somewhat controversial one, so talk with a primary care physician or urologist about the pros and cons of getting a screening at your age.
How Will Treatment Affect My Libido
Prostate cancer may dampen your sex drive. Knowing that you have cancer and going through treatment can both cause you to feel too anxious to have sex.
Hormone therapy used to treat prostate cancer can also affect your libido. This treatment slows prostate cancer growth by lowering testosterone levels in your body. You need testosterone to have a healthy sex drive. Hormone therapy can also affect your self-esteem and sex drive by making you gain weight or causing your breast tissue to enlarge. If your hormone levels are low, your doctor may be able to prescribe testosterone replacement therapy to bring them back up to normal. This depends on your overall cancer treatment plan.
2013 study , about 3 percent of participants reported that they had a reduced penis size after radical prostatectomy or radiation plus hormone therapy. The men said their smaller penis affected their relationships and their satisfaction with life.
For men who do experience this, the change in size is generally half an inch or less. This decrease in size may be due to tissues shrinking in the penis. These tissues may shrink because of nerve and blood vessel damage.
If youre concerned about this side effect, ask your doctor about taking a drug for an erectile dysfunction , such as Cialis or Viagra. The increased blood flow from these drugs may help prevent your penis from getting smaller. Theyll also help with acquiring and maintaining an erection.
About The Prostate And Prostate Cancer
The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system and produces fluid that mixes with semen during ejaculation to help sperm travel. The prostate is a walnut-sized, rubbery organ that surrounds the urethrathe urinary duct that carries urine from the bladder out of the bodyand sits directly below the bladder.
The prostate gland, which grows during puberty, is considered an organ and is made up of several dozen lobules or saclike glands, held together with connective prostate tissue and muscle between them. The glands are called exocrine glands, because they secrete liquid to outside the body.
An enlarged prostate, called benign prostatic hyperplasia , is common in men over the age of 40 and may obstruct the urinary tract. The abnormal prostate cell growth in BPH is not cancerous and doesnt increase your risk of getting prostate cancer. However, symptoms for BPH and prostate cancer can be similar.
A condition called prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia , where prostate gland cells look abnormal when examined under a microscope, may be connected to an increased risk of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is often caught by a doctor performing a digital rectal exam , through a prostate-specific antigen blood test, through a prostate biopsy or with a CT scan.
Another condition, prostatitis, is the inflammation of the prostate. While not cancerous, it may cause higher PSA levels in the blood.
Also Check: How To Shrink Prostate Mayo Clinic
External Beam Radiation Therapy
This is the most common type of radiation therapy, and it is painless. Before treatment, your radiation team will use computerized tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging scans to map out the location of the prostate and tumor cells.
During each treatment session, X-ray beams are focused on the targeted cancer areas. Oncologists can change the intensity of doses and radiation beams to better deliver high doses of radiation to tumor cells while delivering lower doses to surrounding healthy tissues.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
These questions may be useful to you when you talk to your doctor about your chemotherapy treatment:
- Why do I need chemotherapy?
- How can chemotherapy help me?
- What are the risks of chemotherapy?
- Are there any other possible treatments for my prostate cancer?
About Your treatment
- How many chemotherapy treatments will I get?
- What medicine or medicines will I take?
- How will the medicines be given to me?
- How long will each treatment I get last?
About Side Effects
- What side effects may I get from my chemotherapy medicine?
- When will these side effects happen?
- Are there any side effects I should tell you about right away?
- What can I do to manage my side effects?
About Contacting Your Doctor
- How do I get in touch with you or my health care team after your office is closed?
Also Check: Does Enlarged Prostate Affect Ejaculation
Recurrence After Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays, such as x-rays, to kill cancer cells in your prostate. While the high-energy rays are focused on your cancer cells, they may not have killed all of the cancer cells in your prostate gland. If all of the prostate cancer cells are not killed, they can move outside your prostate gland and start growing nearby or in other parts of your body.
Surgically Removing The Prostate Gland
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.
A recent trial showed possible long-term side effects of radical prostatectomy may include an inability to get an erection and urinary incontinence.
Before having any treatment, 67% of men said they could get erections firm enough for intercourse.
When the men who had a radical prostatectomy were asked again after 6 months, this had decreased to 12%. When asked again after 6 years, it had slightly improved to 17%.
For urinary incontinence, 1% of men said they used absorbent pads before having any treatment.
When the men who had a radical prostatectomy were asked again after 6 months, this had increased to 46%. After 6 years, this had improved to 17%.
Out of the men who were actively monitored instead, 4% were using absorbent pads at 6 months and 8% after 6 years.
In extremely rare cases, problems arising after surgery can be fatal.
Its 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.
After a radical prostatectomy, youll no longer ejaculate during sex. This means you will not be able to have a child through sexual intercourse.
Also Check: Prostate Cancer Bone Metastasis Osteoblastic
Tips For Talking With Your Partner
Feeling less of a desire to have sex or having trouble getting an erection may affect your relationship. Try to be as open with your partner as you can. Here are some tips:
- Bring your partner with you to doctors visits. Being part of the conversation may help them understand what youre experiencing.
- Listen to your partners concerns, too. Remember that this issue affects both of you.
- See a therapist or a sex therapist to help you work out any issues that are affecting your sex life.
- If sex is a problem right now, its possible to fulfill each other sexually in other ways. Cuddling, kissing, and caressing can also be pleasurable.
Which Men Are At Risk For Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men in the United States. It is thought that virtually all men with circulating androgens will develop microscopic prostate cancer if they live long enough. In fact, when prostatic tissue is scrutinized under a microscope after surgery , cancer is found in 50% of men older than age 70. And itâs found in virtually all men over age 90.
Recommended Reading: Does An Enlarged Prostate Affect A Man Sexually
Recommended Reading: Does An Enlarged Prostate Affect A Man Sexually
What About Other Treatments I Hear About
When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.
Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.
Will Chemotherapy Cure My Prostate Cancer
No, chemotherapy will not cure your prostate cancer, because it does not kill all of your prostate cancer cells. But chemotherapy helps control your prostate cancer. It may:
Read Also: Can Prostate Cancer Go Away
Good Prostate Cancer Care
Your MDT will be able to recommend what they feel are the best treatment options, but ultimately the decision is yours.
You should be able to talk with a named specialist nurse about treatment options and possible side effects to help you make a decision.
You should also be told about any clinical trials you may be eligible for.
If you have side effects from treatment, you should be referred to specialist services to help stop or ease these side effects.
Drugs To Treat Cancer Spread To Bone
If prostate cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it almost always goes to the bones first. These areas of cancer spread can cause pain and weak bones that might break. Medicines that can help strengthen the bones and lower the chance of fracture are bisphosphonates and denosumab. Sometimes, radiation, radiopharmaceuticals, or pain medicines are given for pain control.
Side effects of bone medicines
A serious side effect of bisphosphonates and denosumab is damage to the jaw, also called osteonecrosis of the jaw . Most people will need to get approval from their dentist before starting one of these drugs.
Don’t Miss: Does Enlarged Prostate Affect Ejaculation
How Is It Treated
Your treatment choices depend on your overall health, how fast the cancer is growing, and how far it has spread.
Locally advanced prostate cancer may be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or a combination of these.
Treatment of metastatic cancer focuses on slowing the spread of the cancer and relieving symptoms, such as bone pain. It also can help you feel better and live longer. Treatment may include hormone therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy.
Men over age 80 or those with other serious health problems may decide not to have treatment except for what is needed to treat any symptoms .
How Will I Feel During My Chemotherapy
The fact that you need to have chemotherapy, and the effect it has on your life, can cause you to have many different feelings. Fear, worry and sadness are common to many people going through chemotherapy treatment for their cancer. Some people find it helps to learn about their disease and treatment because it makes them less afraid of their treatment. Find out as much as you want to know. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Your emotional health is as important as your physical health.
Loss of concentration may be a side effect of chemotherapy. This can affect your ability to listen and remember things, which are explained at your treatment visits. Sometimes people find reading during chemotherapy treatment hard to do. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for information to be repeated as often as you need it. Talking with an understanding friend, relative, minister or another patient may be helpful. Your doctors office may be able to give you a list of local prostate cancer support groups. There will be men in the support group who have had chemotherapy.
Remember everyone needs some support during difficult times. Dont be afraid to ask for help from your doctor or health care team, during or after your treatment.
Don’t Miss: Flomax Dry Ejaculation
Genetic Testing For Prostate Cancer
You may hear a lot about genetics or genomics. Both terms are related to genes and cell DNA, but they are different. These tests are being used to learn more about the DNA of cancer cells, and link DNA mutations with treatments. In the future, genetic testing may be the first step doctors take when diagnosing prostate cancer.
How Prostate Cancer Staging Is Done
Initial staging is based on the results of PSA blood tests, biopsies, and imaging tests. This is also called clinical staging.
PSA refers to a protein made by the prostate measured by a lab test.
- A higher level of PSA can indicate a more advanced cancer.
- The doctors will also look at how fast the PSA levels have been increasing from test to test. A faster increase could show a more aggressive tumor.
A prostate biopsy is done in your doctor’s office. The results can indicate:
- How much of the prostate is involved.
- The Gleason score. A number from 2 to 10 that shows how closely the cancer cells look like normal cells when viewed under a microscope. Scores 6 or less suggest the cancer is slow growing and not aggressive. Higher numbers indicate a faster growing cancer that is more likely to spread.
Don’t Miss: Does An Enlarged Prostate Affect A Man Sexually
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.
Faqs About Prostate Cancer That Has Spread To The Bones
Learn what this diagnosis means for your health and your future, and what you can do to feel strong and well supported.
The prostate is a gland the size of a golf ball that sits below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Its responsible for making the fluid that forms semen. Many men develop cancer of the prostate gland its the second most common cancer among men in the United States. There are several stages of prostate cancer the earliest, when the cancer is still limited to the prostate gland itself, is the easiest to treat.
When the cancer has spread, or metastasized, beyond the prostate gland, its considered advanced, according to the American Cancer Society . When it spreads, its common for cancer cells to reach the bones first. Nine out of 10 men with advanced prostate cancer also have it in their bones.
At this advanced stage, the cancer cant be cured, says Scott T. Tagawa, MD, a medical oncologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. But with treatment, many men can live a long time. There are men Ive been treating for advanced prostate cancer for 10 or 20 years.
Arm yourself with the facts about what happens when prostate cancer spreads to the bones and what you can do to help manage it.
Also Check: Does An Enlarged Prostate Affect A Man Sexually
Treatment For Metastatic Prostate Cancer
Treatment for prostate cancer that has spread to the bones and/or other organs in the body is aimed at relieving symptoms and slowing the cancers growth. Treatment may include:
- Hormone therapy to slow cancer growth.
- Radiation therapy to shrink tumours and ease pain.
- Chemotherapy to stop the growth of cancer cells.
- Surgery to remove blockages that are causing problems .