Prostate Cancer: Frequently Asked Questions Part 3
This is the final part in our prostate cancer FAQ series. Hopefully the information provided has been able to provide you more insight into prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is a disease that is much easier to understand and fight, when you’re more informed about it.
Are there any other conditions with symptoms similar to prostate cancer?
Yes. Any of the symptoms caused by prostate cancer may also be due to enlargement of the prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). As men age, the prostate may get bigger. A bigger prostate may block the flow of urine from the bladder and cause problems with sexual function. This condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is not cancer, but surgery may be needed to correct it. The symptoms of BPH or of other problems in the prostate may resemble symptoms of prostate cancer.
How are prostate cancer tumours classified?
Prostate tumours are classified according to the tumour stage and the grade of aggressiveness of the tumour cells. The tumour stage tells how advanced the tumour is, and whether or not the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs. The other element of classification is the Gleason score. The Gleason score gives information about the aggressiveness of the cells, and how fast the tumour grows. Tumours with a higher score are more aggressive and more difficult to cure.
How is prostate cancer treated?
There are a number of ways to treat prostate cancer, and your doctor will help you to develop a treatment plan that meets your specific needs. The choice of treatment will mostly depend on the stage of the disease and the grade of the tumor. However, there are a number of other factors that are taken into consideration such as your age and overall health. A few of the different treatment options available for prostate cancer include:
- Robotic Prostatectomy
- Radiation Therapy
- Hormonal Therapy
- Brachytherapy (Seed Implants)
It’s important to discuss all of your treatment options including all of the possible side effects with your doctor to help make the decision that best fits your needs.
How will I know if my treatment is working?
Monitoring your PSA levels is one way to check whether your treatment is working. Successful monitoring also includes:
- Keeping your doctor’s appointments
- Recording your PSA results
- Following your doctor’s recommendations
What are some of the side effects of prostate cancer treatments?
Surgery, radiation therapy, and hormonal therapy all have the potential to disrupt both sexual desire and performance. Other side effects as a result of treatment includes: incontinence, bowel problems and fatigue. Discuss any concerns you may have regarding side effects with your healthcare provider.
What are the survival rates of prostate cancer?
Survival rates are estimated and used as a way of explaining to cancer patients what their prognosis is. Survival statistics can help a patient understand how long they may survive after they are diagnosed with cancer. When dealing with cancer patients, the 5-year survival rate is often used, which refers to the proportion of people who survive for at least five years after they have been diagnosed with cancer.
Many patients who are diagnosed may survive more than five years or may even be cured with treatment. Since prostate cancer is a relatively slow growing cancer in most individuals and therefore survival rates are usually high. According to the most recent data from The American Cancer Society, the most recent survival rates on all stages of prostate cancer are:
- The 5-year relative survival rate is almost 100%
- The 10-year relative survival rate is 98%
- The 15-year relative survival rate is 95%
What if my prostate cancer cannot be cured?
Sometimes recovery from prostate cancer is not possible. Together with your doctor you can discuss palliative care. Palliative care is a concept of care with the goal to optimize your quality of life if you cannot recover from your illness. During palliative care you and your loved ones are supported by a multidisciplinary team. Together you address physical, psychological, social, and spiritual questions. Palliative care includes controlling your symptoms and medical treatment for pain management.