Prostate Cancer-The Least You Need To Know

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American men (excluding skin cancers). Each day approximately 500 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer.  There are over 26,000 men who die each year from prostate cancer making it the second most common cause of death.  The diagnosis is often made as the result of a blood test known as the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, followed by a prostate gland biopsy.

Treatment options for prostate cancer include radiation, surgical removal, and watchful waiting or following the man with regular PSA tests and a digital rectal examination.  While a man’s initial reaction to a diagnosis of prostate cancer may be “I just want it out,” the reality is that a number of factors need to be considered before treatment options are selected. These factors include age, general health, and the results of other tests like the Gleason score, which is derived from prostate biopsy.

Most prostate cancers develop in older men and grow very slowly, but some grow quickly and spread beyond the gland. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish men who will benefit from treatment from others in whom the side effects of treatment will outweigh the benefits.

Many prostate cancers will grow so slowly that the man will probably die of another cause before the prostate cancer becomes threatening. Similarly, some prostate cancers at diagnosis have already spread beyond the prostate gland, and surgery or radiation would offer no benefits.

Patients with prostate cancer confined to the prostate gland might derive the most good from surgery or radiation.  You can obtain more information from  American Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp) or speak with your doctor.

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