Just mention the word “prostate” and men all over the country wince. That’s because they know doctors recommend that men in their 50s undergo regular prostate cancer screening. Despite the uncomfortable nature of the exam, it’s crucial as prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death among American men. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, there are many options available including alternative treatments.
What is the Prostate?
The prostate is a muscular gland found below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The size of a walnut, the prostate resides only in men. It functions within the male reproductive system and encompasses a portion of the urethra, the tube that sends urine and sperm from the body. The prostate makes seminal fluid a milky substance that carries sperm.
What Causes Prostate Cancer?
At this point, the cause of prostate cancer is unknown. Doctors speculate that prostate cells become abnormal and replicate faster than normal cells. Typically prostate cancer grows very slowly. These cancerous cells thrive, growing into a tumor that invades neighboring tissue. Some abnormal cells have been known to spread throughout the body.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Prevention is key, but if you are predisposed to cancer or suspect that you may have changes in regular body functions, be sure to consult a physician. Keep in mind that early-stage prostate cancer may not reveal signs or symptoms. Advanced prostate cancer may cause the following:
• Leg swelling
• Discomfort in the pelvic area
• Decreased force in the stream of urine
• Aching bones
• Trouble urinating
• Blood in the urine or semen
Early-stage prostate cancer is cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body, namely bone or tissue. Because it is self-contained inside the prostate gland – often labeled as a low-risk disease – most patients with early-stage prostate cancer can recover 100 percent.
What are Prostrate Cancer Options?
There are two basic options for men with prostate cancer: alternative treatments or active options typically involving surgery or radiation. The treatment option that is right for you depends on a number of factors including your age and lifestyle habits as well as the grade and stage of cancer you have.
• Life expectancy
• Other health issues (stroke, cardiovascular disease)
• Personal preference
• Side effects
Your doctor will help you determine which option is right for you. It is important to note that each of the Prostate Cancer Options have benefits as well as significant side effects such as urine leakage, erectile dysfunction, or incontinence.
Surgery, also known as a radical prostatectomy, involves the removal of the prostate gland and the seminal vesicles. This is a beneficial procedure for men in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. A pelvic lymphadenectomy will determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The process includes the removal of the lymph nodes located in the pelvis region. A pathologist will exam whether cancer cells are present. If so, other options will need to be considered.
Radiation can either be external beam radiation or brachytherapy, otherwise known as radioactive tumor seeding.
Perineal prostatectomy is another type of surgical option, removing the lymph nodes through an incision between the scrotum and anus. Although it is a challenging operation to perform, patients who select this option have fewer complications and enjoy a faster recovery period.
Some medical facilities perform offer a robotic operating system which reduces complications while shortening hospital recuperation.
Transurethral Resection of the Prostate, also known as TURP, is a surgical option used to treat a benign enlargement. A small surgical instrument is inserted into the urethra to remove the prostate tissue causing problems with urination. Only a portion of the prostate gland is removed.
For those with intermediate-risk or high-risk cancer, a combination of therapies is used to heal the body or control the spread to other areas of the body. Chemotherapy is also an option, but it is primarily given to cancer patients with advanced or recurrent prostate cancer who are not responding to hormone therapies.
In addition, active surveillance or expectant management is a form of close patient management. Hormone therapy is given to elderly men with advanced cancer or men who cannot handle intensive treatments.
Are there Alternative Treatments to Prostate Cancer Treatment?
For men with prostate cancer, there are some noninvasive, alternative treatments. Some cancer patients choose to incorporate alternative treatments while receiving conventional treatments. While alternative treatments will not cure prostate cancer, they will lessen the side effects. In addition, alternative treatments may help you cope with related stress and anxiety and improve the results.
• A lycopene-rich diet
• Pomegranates – Studies have shown that drinking a glass of pomegranate juice each day may keep prostate cancer from reoccurring.
• Saw Palmetto Herbs – These herbs address the symptoms of benign prostate gland enlargement (BPH).
• Exercise or get involved in tradition movement therapies on a regular basis.
• Music therapy can be relaxing, allowing cancer patients a way to work through the emotional and physical changes in their bodies.
• Spirituality can center the mind and spirit.
• Relaxation and meditation techniques can ease stress levels in the body.
• Art therapy is used to focus one’s mind and energy on expression as opposed to centering on discomfort or pain.
Be sure to talk with your doctor before trying any alternative treatments.