Archive for the ‘prostate cancer treatment’ Category

Treating Prostate Cancer By Close Monitoring or ActiveSurveillance

November 25, 2016

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in older men and second most common cause of death due to cancer in men over the age of 50.  This year more than 180,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 30,000 men will die of this disease.  There are multiple treatment options for prostate cancer including surgery, radiation, hormone therapy and now there’s a new option: watchful waiting or active surveillance.  Active surveillance means no treatment but careful monitoring with regular digital rectal exams, PSA testing, and possible other tests and\or imaging studies.  This blog is intended to help men who have received a diagnosis of prostate cancer to help guide them in the decision of active surveillance or more aggressive standard treatment options.

What you need to know

The prostate gland is a walnut-sized organ at the base the bladder and surrounds the urethra or the tube in the penis that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.  The prostate gland’s function is to make the fluid that mixes with the sperm and provides the sperm with nourishment to help fertilize an egg and start the process of conception.

For the first part of a man’s life the prostate gland provides pleasure and enjoyment.  After age 50 for reasons not entirely known, the prostate gland starts to grow and compresses the tube or the urethra and produces difficulty with urination.  Again, for reasons not entirely known the prostate cells grow uncontrollably and this results in prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is a very common as one in seven American men will develop prostate cancer.

There are two tests used to detect prostate cancer: 1) the digital rectal exam and 2) the PSA or prostate specific antigen test.  PSA is a protein made by the prostate gland.  An increased level of PSA can be a sign of prostate cancer but an elevation is also seen in men with prostate gland infections and benign enlargement of the prostate gland.

Active surveillance is now considered an acceptable management option in certain men with prostate cancer.  Active surveillance is a type of close follow up. In addition to the PSA and digital rectal exam, a repeat biopsy may be indicated.  A biopsy test called a fusion-guided biopsy is one of these newer tests that combines the MRI with real-time ultrasound images of the prostate.  Genomic tests are another development for prostate cancer assessment.  These tests look at the DNA of the cancer to decide if the cancer is stable or growing.  If any of these tests indicate that the cancer is growing, you may require additional treatment.

At the present time there is no universal agreement about how often the tests should be done for men who are participating in active surveillance.  Patients who are at low risk, that is have a low PSA and a biopsy that reveals a reasonably favorable pathology report, then he can have his PSA check every six months.  It is also common to have a repeat biopsy 12-18 months after the diagnosis.

Candidates for Active Surveillance

Men with early stage prostate cancer that is confined to the prostate gland are the best candidates for active surveillance.  Also, good candidates are men without symptoms and have prostate cancer that is slow growing.  Finally, older men with serious other medical problems which may interfere with treatment are potential active surveillance candidates.

The benefits of active surveillance is that it is low cost, safe, and has no side effects.  Men are able to maintain day-to-day quality of life and not have any of the complications of treatment such as impotence\ED or urinary incontinence.  The risk is that men can become complement and not follow up as often as they should and that the cancer can grow and become more aggressive.

Bottom Line:  Prostate cancer is a common problem in middle age and older men.  Most men if they live long enough will develop prostate cancer.  However, most men with the diagnosis of prostate cancer will die with the cancer and not from it.  My best advice is to have a conversation with your doctor and see if active surveillance is right for you and your cancer.

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Prostate Cancer

October 21, 2016

What do Jose Torres, John Kerry, and Jerry Lewis have in common?  They all have prostate cancer and have been successfully treated.  Nearly 250,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and nearly 30,000 men will die of prostate cancer.  This article will discuss the symptoms of prostate cancer and what can be done to diagnose the

The most common prostate problems are an enlarged prostate, prostatitis and prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer frequently has no symptoms and most men will have prostate cancer and not be aware of the diagnosis.  Symptoms that occur as a result of any prostate condition including benign enlargement of the prostate gland and prostate cancer include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Getting up at night to urinate
  • Pain with urination
  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Blood in the urine
  • Bone pain
  • Impotence or Erectile dysfunction (ED)

 

Risk factors associated with prostate cancer include:

The condition is rare in men under 40 years of age, but most cases are found in men aged 50 or older. At age 80+ nearly all men will have prostate cancer but will seldom succumb to the disease or they have prostate cancer but will not die from it. 

Genetic factor may contribute to prostate cancer risk. Men who have a father, brother, uncle or cousin with prostate cancer are 2 to 3 times more likely to get the condition as compared to men without prostate cancer in a close relative. 

African-American men also have an increased risk of having prostate cancer. It is suggested that African-American men start seeing a doctor for a digital rectal exam and a PSA test after age 40.

Studies have found that obese men have a greater risk of developing more advanced prostate cancer as well as a higher risk of metastasis and death from the condition.

Many studies have found a link between smoking and getting prostate cancer as well as an increased the risk of dying from the condition.

High fat diet has been shown to put men at high risk of prostate cancer. Some studies show that men who have diets high in red meat may raise a person’s chances of developing prostate cancer. 

Bottom Line:  Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of death in men due to cancer (lung cancer is number one), and is very treatable if the diagnosis is made early.  This can be accomplished with a rectal examination and a PSA test.  Speak to your doctor for more information.

 

Prostate Cancer –Management of Low Risk Disease*

July 27, 2014

Prostate cancer remains one of the most common cancers in men with 250,000 new cases each year and causes nearly 40,000 deaths each year. Like most other cancers there are shades of gray and not all cancers need to have treatment. This blog will discuss the use of androgen deprivation therapy and when it might used in men with advanced prostate cancer.

There’s nothing like an elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) test result to strike fear into even the most unflappable and courageous of men. That’s because elevations in PSA in the blood can point to the presence of prostate cancer. On the other hand, elevated PSA can also indicate prostatic enlargement or inflammation of the prostate. However, an elevated PSA test result, combined with a digital rectal exam and a 12-core prostate biopsy to remove small pieces of prostate tissue from the gland, will provide a very good idea as to whether a man has cancer or not.

About 40 to 50 percent of the 241,000 men expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year will have a suspicious PSA score and a Gleason score of 6 out of 10, which is based on the prostate biopsy. A Gleason score of 6 is an indicator of a very favorable or low-risk disease, a disease that is treatable and curable — if, in fact, a man chooses to treat it.

Facing treatment decisions. Once a man has a prostate cancer diagnosis, he then has to choose what type of treatment he wants, which can include surgery or radiation therapy; men with low-risk cancer can also opt for active surveillance, or close monitoring without any immediate treatment. However, these men have to have a digital rectal exam and PSA test and possibly a repeat biopsy on a regular basis.

The good news is that low-risk prostate cancer — meaning low grade and low stage with a PSA below 10 ng/mL — grows slowly, if at all. Therefore, a man should be sure to discuss with his doctor whether he really needs to undergo any therapy to treat his cancer. That’s because in the majority of cases the answer will be “not now.”

What we have learned over the years with low-grade cancer is that sometimes the best option is no treatment whatsoever. And that includes treatment with androgen deprivation therapy, or ADT.
Earlier this summer, I came across a study in JAMA Internal Medicine that reminded me that many men with low-risk prostate cancer are still being offered primary ADT to treat their cancer, something that we would not recommend at Johns Hopkins. The reason: ADT offers no survival benefit for men with low-risk cancer and it causes significant side effects, including osteoporosis, diabetes and decreased libido.

Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT)–also called hormone deprivation, or hormonal or androgen ablation–is effective at turning off the body’s supply of male hormones, which prostate cells need to grow and develop. When the supply is shut off by drugs or by removing the testes, a portion of the cancer dies, tumors generally shrink, and PSA levels drop.

It’s androgens, or male hormones, that stimulate the growth of prostate tumors. The two most common androgens are testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Since the Nobel Prize-winning discovery by Dr. Charles Huggins of the University of Chicago that prostate tumors depend on these hormones to grow, reducing androgen levels or blocking the action of androgen (androgen suppression) has become the standard of care for men with cancer that has spread beyond the prostate (metastasized) to the bones and other organs. There has also been increasing interest in using it in men whose PSA level has begun to rise after treatment with surgery or radiation (“biochemical recurrence,” an early sign that the cancer has not been eradicated).

Most urologists typically wait until there is evidence of metastatic disease before starting with ADT. There is an exception, however, and that is when we see a rapid PSA doubling time (less than six months) — because this provides indirect evidence of micrometastic disease that will develop in the next few years.

While ADT plays a significant role in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, it has no role in the treatment of older men with low-risk cancer. Yet primary ADT is nevertheless being prescribed for one in eight men over age 65 diagnosed with localized prostate cancer.

The JAMA article. In the JAMA Internal Medicine study conducted by Grace L. Lu-Yao, Ph.D., a cancer epidemiologist at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, more than 66,000 older men with low-risk prostate cancer were followed for up to 15 years. Dr. Lu-Yao reported that those men who received ADT lived no longer on average when compared with men who did not receive the therapy.

Prescribing ADT for these low-risk patients may decrease the high anxiety level that a patient may have due to his cancer diagnosis, however, it is necessary to note that such treatment may carry more risk than benefit. ADT helps reduce anxiety by quickly dropping PSA levels into the undetectable range, so the doctors may feel that they are doing something positive for their patients. However, ADT may not really be in the patient’s best interest due to complex side effects. The doctor should really be talking to patients with low-risk disease about pursuing active surveillance, not ADT.

There are serious potential risks associated with ADT, including coronary heart disease, and the associated high costs of the medications, the use of primary ADT should be limited to patients in the high-risk cancer group who are not suitable for, or opt not to receive, primary therapy — surgery or radiation — that has the potential to cure.
The side effects associated with ADT. In general, hormonal therapy will cause significant side effects after several months of treatment. Long-term side effects of ADT may include one, some or all of the following:
• Anemia
• Coronary heart disease
• Decreased energy
• Decrease in mental acuity
• Depression
• Diabetes
• Erectile dysfunction
• Hot flashes
• Loss of muscle mass
• Osteopenia
• Osteoporosis

Bottom Line: Many men with prostate cancer who have low risk disease or who have recurrence after treatment with radiation or surgery. This is usually detected by a rising PSA after treatment for prostate cancer that is confined to the prostate gland. These men should have a discussion with their urologists and discuss if androgen deprivation therapy is really in their best interests and that the benefits vs. the side effects are worth the treatment with androgen deprivation therapy.

*This blog was modified from the Johns Hopkins Newsletter, July 2014

PSA Elevation After Treatment For Prostate Cancer

July 24, 2014

Prostate cancer represents the second most common cancer in men following lung cancer. Prostate cancer will be diagnosed in nearly 250,000 men annually and causes nearly 40,000 deaths each year. If you already have had prostate cancer treatment, changes in PSA levels can tell whether treatment is working.

After surgical removal of your prostate, your PSA levels should be undetectable. After radiation therapy, the PSA levels should drop and remain at low levels.
Signs that your cancer has returned may include one of these:
Three consecutive PSA rises above the lowest level over time
Confirmed rise of more than 2 ng/mL from your lowest level

The key is monitoring your PSA levels over time. A rapid rise suggests rapid cancer growth and the need for treatment. A very slow rise of the PSA can often be watched.
But PSA levels can also be somewhat confusing. For example, they can go up and down a bit for no reason. The PSA test is not precise, and minor changes from test to test are to be expected.
Low rises of PSA levels can’t predict your longevity or symptoms when you have cancer. But high or rapidly rising PSA levels can suggest future problems.
That’s why doctors take other factors into account when evaluating your situation. Talk with your doctor to get a better idea of what to expect, so the numbers don’t add to your anxiety.

Advanced Prostate Cancer and PSA Levels Over Time
If you have advanced prostate cancer that has spread outside the prostate, your doctor will be looking less at your actual PSA levels than at whether and how quickly PSA levels change.
Doctors use changes in PSA levels over time (called PSA velocity) to tell how extensive and aggressive your cancer is.

Your doctor won’t just look at one PSA reading at a time. He or she will confirm it with multiple tests over many months, especially after any radiation therapy. That’s because you can have a temporary bump in PSA levels for about one to two years after radiation treatment.
To determine how aggressive your cancer is and whether further treatment makes sense, your doctor may also consider your:
PSA levels before cancer
Grade of cancer or the Gleason score. The higher the Gleason score, the more aggressive the cancer.
Overall health and life expectancy
PSA Levels and Treatment for Advanced Prostate Cancer
Your symptoms and how long it takes for your PSA levels to double (PSA doubling time) affect decisions about how soon to try treatment such as hormone therapy.
Your doctor will look at how quickly or slowly PSA rises before deciding on which treatment to suggest. You may need continued monitoring before moving to a new treatment. Your doctor may suggest waiting for a while to delay the appearance of treatment-related side effects. Discuss with your doctor how to weigh these considerations.

PSA levels may also be useful in checking if your treatment for advanced prostate cancer is working after you have had:
Hormone therapy
Chemotherapy
Vaccine therapy
Treatment should lower PSA levels, keep them from rising, or slow the rise, at least for a while.
Doctors monitor PSA regularly based on the type of treatment you had first. For example, after hormone therapy, PSA should drop to a lower level quickly, i.e., within weeks. It may fall further over time as you continue hormone therapy.

Combined with symptoms and other tests, PSA tests can also show if it’s time to try another type of treatment.

Bottom Line: PSA is an imprecise test for diagnosing and monitoring prostate cancer. If the PSA rises quickly after treatment, whether it is surgery, radiation, or hormone treatment, this is of concern and you may need to have additional treatment. Speak to your doctor if you have any questions.

FAQ From My Patients

April 12, 2014

I am frequently asked questions by my patients and the answers may be of interest to you. If you have any questions that you would like me to answer, please write me at nbaum@neilbaum.com. to your good health.

I am a 60 yr. woman with recurrent urinary tract infections. I was told to drink cranberry juice. Is that effective?
Studies have documented that within eight hours of drinking cranberry juice, the juice could help prevent bacteria from developing into an infection in the urinary tract. Previous studies have suggested that the active compounds in cranberry juice work to fight against bacteria, including E. coli. Naturopaths believe in the medicinal value of cranberries. My own experience with hundreds of patients is that cranberry juice helps but you must drink 4-6 glasses a day, which is also a lot of sugar. So I suggest the cranberry juice pills. Anyone who suspects they have an infection should see a doctor, but drinking cranberry juice may be an easy, inexpensive way to help keep E. coli at bay.
I have chronic prostatitis. Is zinc helpful for this condition?
Zinc plays an important role in maintaining and improving prostate health. While zinc is found in every organ, tissue and cell in the human body, in males, the prostate has more zinc than any other tissue except bone.
As men get older, they tend to exercise less and their diets change as well, often causing them to fall short of the recommended daily allowance of zinc. Men who don’t have significant levels of zinc in their diets tend to have higher instances prostatitis. They also have higher prostate cancer rates.
The recommended daily allowance for men is 11 milligrams. Zinc is found in many popular foods, including meat and poultry, as well as oysters, beans, nuts, crab, lobster, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products.

My urologist told me that I have a varicocele. Will this cause me to have a problem with infertility?

Yes it may. Varicoceles are enlarged varicose veins that occur in the scrotum. They are fairly common, affecting 15 out of 100 men overall and one of the most common causes of male infertility because the heat from the dilated veins affect sperm production. Varicoceles occur most often in the left testicle. A varicocele repair is done to improve male fertility and is accomplished on an outpatient basis with improvement in the sperm producing in 3-4 months after the procedure.

I had radiation therapy for prostate cancer and now have a loss of my sex drive. What is the cause?
Men who receive radiation therapy for prostate cancer often receive injections to lower the testosterone level to decrease the growth of the cancer. Testosterone is responsible for the sex drive or libido. Often the testosterone level will return to normal after the medication is discontinued after the radiation therapy. In some instances men can receive testosterone one year after radiation if the PSA level stays at a low level. I suggest you have a discussion with your urologist about the use of testosterone in men with prostate cancer.

Medical Tests That You Can Do Without

March 11, 2014

I just had my annual physical examination. I am without any symptoms; take a baby aspirin and a vitamin; have no co morbid conditions. I asked myself did I really need a chest x-ray when I am exposed to so much radiation during my work at the hospital or did I need an EKG with no symptoms and a negative family history? I found my answer in a recent AARP article about “10 Tests To Avoid”.

1. Nuclear stress tests, and other imaging tests, after heart procedures
If you have had heart bypass, stent or other heart procedure, you don’t need nuclear stress test or other tests that their hearts are beating strong and the results rarely change the plan of management. Instead, patients and doctors should focus on what does make a difference in keeping the heart healthy: managing weight, quitting smoking, controlling blood pressure and increasing exercise.

2. Yearly electrocardiogram or exercise stress test
Someone at low risk for heart disease could be 10 times more likely to get a false-positive result than to find a true problem with their heart. The stress test could lead to unnecessary heart catheterization and stents. Instead, it is important to have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked at least once a year. And if you’re at risk for diabetes, have your blood glucose level checked as well.

3. PSA to screen for prostate cancer
Cancer is always scary, but the PSA test often finds slow-growing cancers that won’t kill men. An estimated 75 percent of tests that show high PSA levels turn out to be false alarms.
The American Urological Association, of which I am a member, supports the use of PSA testing, but should be considered mainly for men ages 55 to 69. I also believe that no testing is required in the man without any symptoms if the man is more than 75 years of age. However, men with a positive family history of prostate cancer and African American men should have an annual PSA test and a digital rectal examination.

4. PET scan to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease
In the last few years, doctors have begun using PET scans with a radioactive dye to look for beta-amyloid protein that is found in the brains of people with the Alzheimer’s disease. Even if a PET scan could accurately diagnose the disease, it’s untreatable. If you’re concerned about your memory, the better course is to have a complete medical evaluation by a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating dementia.

5. X-ray, CT scan or MRI for lower back pain
Back pain is incredibly common — 80 percent of people will suffer from back pain some time in their lives. It can be both excruciating and debilitating. Naturally, people want to know what’s wrong. Here’s the catch: The best imaging machines in the world often can’t tell them. Many older people with no back pain can have terrible-looking scans.
Most back pain goes away in about a month and imaging tests tend to lead to expensive procedures that often don’t help or shorten recovery. If you don’t feel better in a month, talk to your doctor about other options such as physical therapy, yoga or massage. But if your legs feel weak or numb, you have a history of cancer or you have had a recent infection, see your doctor.

6. Yearly Pap tests
The yearly Pap smear is a common part of women’s health checklists, but it doesn’t need to be. Women at average risk only need them every three years, since cervical cancer generally takes 10 to 20 years to develop. If women have also had negative tests for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is now known to cause the cancer, they only need a Pap test along with the HPV test every five years. And women older than 65 who have had several normal Pap tests in a row can stop having them altogether. Also, if you have had a total hysterectomy for a benign condition such as uterine fibroids and the entire uterus and cervix have been removed, you do not need any further Pap test. Do note, however, that a yearly visit to an ob-gyn stays on the to-do list.

7. Bone density scan for women before age 65 and men before age 70
For the estimated 10 million people — mainly women —in the United States who have osteoporosis, bone-strengthening medications can lower the chances of breaking a bone. But many experts argue that for those ages 50 to 65 who have osteopenia — mild bone loss — testing and subsequent drug prescriptions may be a waste of time and money. Not only is the risk of fracture often quite low, medications such as Fosamax (alendronate) and Boniva (ibandronate) have been linked to throat or chest pain, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, muscle pain, bone loss in the jaw and thigh-bone fractures. And there’s scant evidence that people with osteopenia get much benefit from the drugs.
To help keep your bones strong, try walking and weight-bearing exercises,. Get enough calcium, 1000mg\day, and vitamin D, 1000IU\day, in your diet. If you smoke, quit.

8. Follow-up ultrasounds for small ovarian cysts
Many women receive repeated ultrasounds to verify that ovarian cysts have not become cancerous, but current research says that these tests aren’t necessary. For one thing, premenopausal women have harmless ovarian cysts regularly. For another, about 20 percent of postmenopausal women also develop harmless cysts.
The likelihood of these small simple cysts ever becoming cancer is exceedingly low.

9. Colonoscopy after age 75
Most people should have screening for colon cancer at 50 and then every five to 10 years after that, if the first test is normal. By age 75 — if you’ve always had normal colonoscopies — you can stop taking this test altogether. That should be good news, because a colonoscopy can cause serious complications in older people.
To protect your colon, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains for fiber. Cut down on fatty foods, red meat and processed meats. Lose weight if you’re overweight and exercise. Sound familiar? It should, because that’s the best advice for protecting the rest of your body — and mind — as well.

10. Yearly physical
There’s little evidence that having an annual checkup can keep you healthy. Now I they tell me! Many tests that doctors regularly perform — to diagnose anemia, liver disease or urinary tract infections, for example — don’t make sense unless there’s a reason to suspect a problem.
Certainly, if you have an illness that needs treatment, you should see your physician. And do talk to your doctor about how often you need to have your blood pressure and cholesterol tested.

Bottom Line: Use good judgment about your health and your visit to the doctor. Ask the doctor if the test is really necessary and if the results will change how he\she is taking care of you. My message is that patients, including myself, need to become involved in their healthcare.
This article was inspired and modified from AARP, 10 Test to Avoid, by Elizabeth Agnvall, http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2014/choosing-wisely-medical-tests-to-avoid.3.html

Sex and the Prostate Cancer Patient

February 28, 2014

Q. I can’t get erections after prostate cancer treatment. Does that mean I will never have sex again?
A. The quality of your erections may not be the same after treatment for prostate cancer, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy penetrative sex. There are many options to help the firmness: medication, vacuum erection pumps, injections and implants. It is also important to realize that sex can be about more than penetration. Learning different techniques to pleasure your partner may be just as enjoyable. Improving upon your oral sex techniques, or mutual masturbation may bring pleasure equal to vaginal intercourse. A sex therapist can help you learn with these techniques.

Q. Since my treatment for prostate cancer, I have lost my interest in sex. Will that return?
A. Some of the hormone treatments, Lupron, Zolodex, Firmagon, used to fight prostate cancer can interrupt one’s desire for sex by decreasing the testosterone levels in the man’s blood stream. If you have a partner, it is important to discuss this side effect. You may find it helpful to have scheduled sexual activity to encourage closeness and intimacy. Sometimes, interest in sex builds when people engage in more foreplay. Also, touching by handholding and kissing can be also be pleasurable to both the man and the woman.

Q: Will my sexual function ever return to what it once was?
Many men grieve the function they had in their youth, forgetting that even without cancer, their level of function would likely change as they age. In either case, if you are going through proper rehabilitation starting immediately after treatment, you will have a greater chance of regaining most of your sexual function. Depending on the long-term treatment plan you and your doctor choose, you may find you need assistance through medications, vacuum erection devices, injections, and the surgical implantation of a penile prosthesis.

This Q and A was inspired and modified from an article by Melissa Donahue, LCSW from the New Jersey Center for Sexual Wellness http://www.njsexualwellness.com

Obesity and Sedentary Life Style Can Affect Your Prostate and Your Outcomes of Treatment

January 24, 2014

Obese men are more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer and are more likely to die of their disease. Researchers at Johns Hopkins may have uncovered the explanation. Obese men have shorter telomeres. Telomeres are like aglets on shoelaces or the little tips that protect the ends of their chromosomes. Short telomeres can cause the chromosomes to become unstable and this abnormality is strongly associated with cancer. Their research in collaboration with doctors at Harvard Medical School found that men with shorter telomeres had a much higher risk of dying from prostate cancer.

Not only did obesity demonstrate shorter telomeres and who were physically inactive had even shorter telomeres compared to men of normal weight and who were the most physically active.

Bottom Line: Telomere shortening in prostate cells is associated with obesity and decreased physical activity. Therefore, this is one more reason for men to adopt a healthy lifestyle and develop good nutritional habits and get moving!

Watching The Results On Watchful Waiting For Prostate Cancer

October 29, 2013

I have seen many changes in medicine during my 35 year career but nothing has changed more dramatically than the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. When I was a medical student in 1968, the treatment was primarily removing a man’s testicles or castration. This drastic treatment removed the source of testosterone, which was the “fuel” to cause prostate cancer to grow. Then came surgery and radiation therapy followed by chemotherapy and now high energy focused ultrasound or HIFU. But many of these treatments have significant side effects like impotence and urinary incontinence which significantly impact a man’s quality of life. As a result conservative forms of treatment have been sought after that doen’t have the side effects and yet prolongs a man’s life. One of those options is watchful waiting or active surveillance where the diagnosis is made and no treatment is used and the man returns regularly for a physical examination which incldues a digital rectal exam, a PSA test and perhaps a repeat prostate ultrasound examination.

Because prostate cancer often grows very slowly, some men (especially those who are older or have other serious health problems) may never need treatment for their prostate cancer. Instead, your doctor may recommend approaches known as expectant management, watchful waiting, or active surveillance.

Active surveillance or watchful waiting is often used to mean monitoring the cancer closely with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests, digital rectal exams (DREs), and ultrasounds at regular intervals to see if the cancer is growing. Prostate biopsies may be done as well to see if the cancer is becoming more aggressive. If there is a change in your test results, your doctor would then talk to you about treatment options.
With active surveillance, your cancer will be carefully monitored. Usually this approach includes a doctor visit with a PSA blood test and DRE about every 3 to 6 months. Transrectal ultrasound-guided prostate biopsies may be done every year as well.
Treatment can be started if the cancer seems to be growing or getting worse, based on a rising PSA level or a change in the DRE, ultrasound findings, or biopsy results. On biopsies, an increase in the Gleason score or extent of tumor (based on the number of biopsy samples containing tumor) are both signals to start treatment (usually surgery or radiation therapy).

Active surveillance allows the patient to be observed for a time, only treating those men whose cancer grows, and so have a serious form of the cancer. This lets men with a less serious cancer avoid the side effects of a treatment that might not have helped them live longer.

An approach such as this may be recommended if your cancer is not causing any symptoms, is expected to grow slowly (based on a low Gleason score, i.e., 6), and is small and contained within the prostate. This type of approach is not likely to be a good option if you have a fast-growing cancer (for example, a high Gleason score, >8) or if the cancer is likely to have spread outside the prostate (based on PSA levels). Men who are young and healthy are less likely to be offered active surveillance, out of concern that the cancer will become a problem over the next 20 or 30 years.
Watchful waiting is also an option for older men who have other co-morbid conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or another cancer that has been previously treated. A rule of thumb is that if a man has a life expectancy of less than 10 years and has a low grade prostate cancer, then watchful waiting would certainly be suggestion.

Active surveillance is a reasonable option for some men with slow-growing cancers because it is not known whether treating the cancer with surgery or radiation will actually help them live longer. These treatments have definite risks and side effects that may outweigh the possible benefits for some men.
So far there are no randomized studies comparing active surveillance to treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy. Some early studies of active surveillance (in men who are good candidates) have shown that only about a quarter of the men need to go on to definitive treatment with radiation or surgery.

Bottom Line: Prostate cancer is usually a slow growing tumor that affects millions of American men. One consideration for an older man, with a low Gleason score, and no symptoms from the prostate cancer would be watchful waiting. Each man with prostate cancer needs to have a discussion with his doctor to decide which treatment is best in his situation.

Lose Weight and It May Affect Your Risk of Prostate Cancer

October 28, 2013

Prostate cancer is a slow growing tumor that affects millions of American men. More than 2 million men in the U.S. are prostate cancer survivors. There are 250,000 new cases of prostate cancer discovered each year. Although more than 80% of prostate cancer patients are diagnosed with cancer confined to the prostate gland, the relative 10-year survival rate is 93% for all men regardless of how far advanced is the cancer. Most men are interested in finding out what they can do to prevent prostate cancer. This blog will discuss how exercise may help prevent prostate cancer.

There is new evidence that obesity increases the risk of prostate cancer and, more importantly, regular exercise decreases the risk of prostate cancer. 
Studies of exercise and prostate cancer risk have mostly shown that men who exercise may have a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Exercise has many other health benefits and may reduce your risk of heart disease and other cancers. Exercise can help you maintain your weight, or it can help you lose weight.

A study performed by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health examined the records of 2,705 men who had been diagnosed with nonmetastatic prostate cancer over 18-years. The men in the study reported the time they spent exercising on a weekly basis. This included running, bicycling, walking, swimming, other sports, and even outdoor work. Men who reported vigorous activity for at least three hours per week had a 61% lower risk of a prostate cancer-specific death, compared with men who exercised for less than an hour per week.

The results of this study suggests that men can reduce their risk of prostate cancer progression after a diagnosis of prostate cancer by adding physical activity to their daily routine.
A little is better than none

The researchers observed benefits at very attainable levels of activity and that the study suggests that men with prostate cancer should do some physical activity for their overall health, even if it is a small amount, such as 15 minutes of activity per day of walking, jogging, biking, or mowing the law\gardening.

There is good evidence that doing vigorous activity for three or more hours per week may be especially beneficial for prostate cancer, as well as overall health. The research shows a significant risk reduction for prostate cancer mortality with increasing vigorous activity.
The study is published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Decreased physical activity, which may be the result of the cancer itself or the treatment, can lead to tiredness and lack of energy. Regular, moderate exercise can decrease these feelings, help you stay active, and increase your energy. Even during cancer therapy, it is often possible to continue exercising.

If you don’t already exercise, make an appointment with your doctor to see if it’s OK for you to get started. When you begin exercising, go slowly. Add physical activity to your day by parking your car farther away from where you’re going, and try taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.

Risk of prostate cancer is higher in men who are African American descent or who have a father, brother, uncle, or close relative with prostate cancer. Talk to your doctor about your risk. 
Some men have an increased risk of prostate cancer. For those with a very high risk of prostate cancer, there may be other options for risk reduction, such as medications.

Bottom Line: Prostate cancer is a common malignancy that affects millions of American men. There are risks of increasing prostate cancer and steps you can take like improving your diet and increasing your exercise level that will decrease the risk of prostate cancer.