Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. This is the reason why a prostate cancer cure is something medical experts are continuously trying to produce. That being said, each patient develops a unique record of prostate cancer. It is only normal that, in the eventuality of the occurrence of a universal cure, this treatment will have to adjust to the particularities of each case.
Until then, the cure for prostate cancer relies on a medical strategy that patients can determine together with their doctors (oncologists and surgeons). The present article has as its goal shedding light on the common questions that are asked regarding the curable side of prostate cancer.
Take the PSA test for prostate cancer diagnosis
In order for the tumor to respond well to any care plan, it needs to be discovered at its earliest stage. This is why doctors and medical experts are prompting men to do regular bloodwork and test themselves for prostate-specific antigen (PSA).
The first signs of prostate cancer are:
- An alerting number of urges for urination;
- Sleep interruptions during the night to go to the bathroom;
- A burning or painful sensation during urination;
- Stiffness in the lower back.
When the tumor is found before it develops too far, then the chances of a care plan that bypasses invasive treatments remain high. This is why prevention represents is the most important step in designing a cure for prostate cancer.
Treatment options for prostate cancer to consider
Almost 90% of prostate cancer diagnoses are delivered at early stages. In these cases, there is plenty of room for doctors and their patients to discuss and address the situation at a steady pace.
Depending on the circumstances, doctors can call for monitoring the development of the tumor without taking any actionable steps. In the absence of harmful symptoms or a swift change in the progression of the disease, doctors usually incline towards prudent measures.
Given the slow progression of prostate tumors, it can take even years before medical specialists decide on a pragmatic approach. The moment the symptoms of prostate cancer start superseding the possible treatment side effects and affect the quality of life, a care plan is set into motion.
Surgery for prostate cancer
This treatment option for prostate cancer is usually made available to otherwise healthy patients. Tumors have to be of negligible dimensions and be attached only to the prostate gland in order to be eligible for removal through a surgical procedure.
A prostatectomy is a primary treatment that can cure prostate cancer by extracting the prostate gland and some tissue adjacent to it, depending on the case. However, even after a successful outcome, cancer can relapse if the PSA levels go back above 4.0.
The side effects of this treatment range from erectile dysfunction to a loss of bladder control. Patients need to talk their options through with their doctors in order to make an informed decision.
Chemotherapy for prostate cancer
While surgery is a cure for mild cases of prostate cancer, chemotherapy represents an option for patients whose tumors spread beyond the prostate. This therapy works by delivering drugs by mouth or intravenous to fight and kill cancer cells.
Unfortunately, in the process, healthy cells get damaged as well, leading to a slew of side effects:
- Loss of hair;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Changes at the level of the skin and nails;
- Mood changes;
- Loss of appetite and libido.
However, if patients experience high fever, unexplained bleeding, rashes or any unusual pain, the doctors might alter the treatment plan. These are symptoms of a more serious problem.
Hormone therapy for prostate cancer
Also known as androgen suppression therapy, the purpose of hormone therapy is to mitigate the influence of any prostate cancer. What happens is that prostate cancer cells are feeding on male hormones in order to grow. Using hormone therapy, the body puts a stop on supplying cancer with what it requires in order to grow.
Nonetheless, hormone therapy is not a cure for prostate cancer. Doctors can recommend this procedure when the cancer has spread too far or before chemotherapy in order to shrink the tumor and maximize the efficiency of the treatment.
Immunotherapy for prostate cancer
Immunotherapy is a cure for prostate cancer in the shape of a vaccine. This treatment relies on training the patients’ white cells into recognizing and fighting prostate cancer cells.
On the other hand, this care plan is not an ideal fit for any stage of prostate cancer. On the contrary, immunotherapy usually works by increasing the survival span in patients with advanced cases where the symptoms are sparse or none at all.
Can prostate cancer be cured without surgery?
Most patients seek a way of treatment that looks past invasive procedures, which are known for reducing the quality of life. Depending on the particularities of a case, there actually can be a viable option based on non-surgical treatments.
Of the care plans we’ve looked over so far, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy can work on their own on restricting or even putting a stop to the tumor growth. Nonetheless, the most important step in mitigating prostate cancer is the consensus on active surveillance. As long as patients remain in contact with their doctors, low-risk cases of prostate cancer may take years to manifest through negative symptoms.
In fact, most prostate cancer patients end up succumbing to other ailments. In the United States, there are at least 3.1 million men diagnosed with prostate cancer who are leading a normal lifestyle according to the American Cancer Society.
There are other non-invasive treatments that don’t involve surgical planning:
- Cold therapy;
- External beam radiation therapy;
- Brachytherapy (this treatment focuses radiation on the prostate gland to kill cancer cells);
- High intensity focussed ultrasound.
Thanks to medical advancements, the prostate cancer patients of today dispose of numerous care plans that leave out an intrusive course of action. Statistics are also showing that diagnosed prostate cancer patients can live without undergoing surgery for years.
Can small cell prostate cancer be cured?
Small cell prostate cancer is a rare modification of prostate cancer that is more aggressive in nature. Similar in symptoms with the normal cases of prostate cancer, this variation grows faster and spreads beyond the prostate gland.
According to Cancer Research UK, small cell prostate cancer develops in 1 in every 100 prostate cancers. Given the small percentage of the population afflicted with this type of cancer, researchers are experiencing difficulties in finding a suitable cure for small cell prostate cancer.
By the time patients get diagnosed with small cell prostate cancer, the affliction is already attacking other parts of the body. Therefore, the care plan for this type of cancer usually regards minimizing the symptoms rather than curing the ailment altogether.
Usually, doctors recommend chemotherapy to address small cell prostate cancer. Unfortunately, the survival rates in cases of small cell prostate cancer are low.
Can chemotherapy cure metastatic prostate cancer?
Metastatic prostate cancer takes place when cancer cells have reached other organs, distant from the prostate gland. It takes its name from the verb “metastasize” which means to spread to other parts of the body through means of blood, lymphatic vessels, or membranous surfaces.
At this stage, there is currently no cure to reverse a metastatic phase. That being said, doctors are focusing on various strategies in order to prolong life expectancy.
For cases of metastatic prostate cancer, medical specialists are steering away from surgical procedures. Instead, they are likely to pursue other care plans that involve less invasive treatments, such as hormone therapy, immunotherapy, chemotherapy or even clinical trials. Therefore, patients who suffer from metastatic prostate cancer are usually undergoing sessions of chemotherapy in view of diminishing the symptoms rather than curing cancer.
Can prostate cancer be cured at stage 3?
At stage 3, prostate cancer has reached a point where its cells managed to get out of the prostate gland. However, even at this stage, cancer cells are still located around the prostate gland without infiltrating other parts of the body.
While the fourth stage represents the most advanced stage, cases diagnosed with stage 1, 2, or 3 prostate cancer are still curable. More than that, statistics show that 95% of prostate cancers at stage 3 live for at least another 5 years.
Even in cases where stage 3 is at its peak, the tumor is still growing slowly. This gives doctors the opportunity to deal with the disease and apply the right course of action. Usually, the treatment options for stage 3 prostate cancer encompass:
- Hormone therapy;
- External beam radiation;
- Surgical removal of the prostate gland;
- Pelvic lymph node dissection.
Can prostate cancer be cured with diet?
There is no research to this date that indicates that diet has any direct implications for prostate cancer. However, an improvement in patients’ eating and social habits may indirectly improve their quality of life.
When treating any form of cancer, the body becomes subject to numerous treatments and even invasive procedures. The better the shape of the patient is, the quicker the recovery process becomes.
This is why a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can alleviate some of the distress patients are going through. Moreover, an active social life and constant physical training may prove just as valuable as a balanced diet.
Here are some actions that can lead to a healthier lifestyle:
- Join support groups;
- Pay social visits;
- Adhere to a diet that keeps obesity in check;
- Take up an enjoyable activity like swimming, jogging, lifting weights, or even walking;
- Eliminate consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
How to know when prostate cancer is cured?
As a general rule, doctors consider that their patients are outside any risk of cancer recurrence when the PSA levels remain within normal limits for 5 years. Anything below 4.0 is considered a normal PSA reading.
Once the recommended treatment for prostate cancer reaches an end and the results are favorable, doctors don’t rush into labeling the outcome as “cured prostate cancer.” Instead, they resort to the term “remission” to indicate that any sign of cancer is gone for the time being.
However, cancer cells can return even after successful treatments. This is why the American Cancer Society urges men to accept annual screenings whether they experience prostate cancer symptoms or not.