Almost everyone knows someone living with prostate cancer, and you may know that regular prostate exams can help diagnose cancer, but there’s a lot more to know about the disease that can help patients make informed decisions about their care.
- Most men don’t die from prostate cancer. Although prostate cancer is a serious disease, and it does take lives, it is highly treatable and five-year survival rates are nearly 100 percent.2 That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously though as some forms of the cancer are very aggressive. The bottom line? There is no one-size-fits-all approach to prostate cancer screening and treatment, and men should consult a medical professional for an assessment.
- Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. In fact, prostate cancer is one of the most asymptomatic cancers, which means that not all men experience symptoms. Common symptoms may include: a need to urinate frequently, difficulty starting or stopping urination, weak or interrupted flow of urination, painful or burning urination, difficulty having an erection, painful ejaculation, blood in the urine or semen, or frequent pain and stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs. But these symptoms don’t necessarily mean cancer – in fact, they’re often an indication of other diseases such as prostatitis or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous growth of the prostate.3
- Some men may never require treatment. While more than 60,000 American men opt to treat their prostate cancer with radiation every year, prostate tumors often grow very slowly, so some men choose an approach known as “active surveillance.”4 This means there is no immediate treatment, but your doctor will want to keep an eye on the cancer so they can act if it gets worse. Active surveillance is sometimes suggested instead of treatment depending on the patient’s age, other health conditions, risks and side effects of treatment, or the size of the tumor. While active surveillance is a valid and recommended approach, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of all available treatment options before making your decision.
- “Active surveillance” does not mean “ignore and wait.” Unfortunately, many men who choose active surveillance fail to comply with follow-up testing – a critical component to long-term success. Since many men with prostate cancer are symptom-free, without ongoing testing there is no way to know if the cancer is growing or spreading. So while postponing treatment may be right for some men, it’s not advised to turn your back completely; regular PSA tests and biopsies can alert you if further treatment, such as radiation, is needed.
- Potential radiation therapy side effects can be reduced. Because of the proximity of the rectum and prostate, radiation therapy for prostate cancer can cause unintended damage to the rectum, which can lead to fecal incontinence issues or other lasting side effects. As this could be a barrier for men seeking treatment, it’s important to know there are options available to help reduce these risks. SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel is an absorbable gel inserted via a minimally invasive procedure that creates a temporary space between the prostate and the rectum, helping to reduce the radiation exposure to the rectum. It has been evaluated in clinical studies and shown to be safe and effective in reducing the side effects of radiation therapy to the rectal area. To date, more than 50,000 patients worldwide have been successfully treated with SpaceOAR Hydrogel.5
Treatment with SpaceOAR Hydrogel is available at The Medical Center Cancer Treatment Center. For more information about SpaceOAR Hydrogel, visit www.spaceoar.com.
- Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/key-statistics.html. Accessed February 13, 2019.
- Survival Rates for Prostate Cancer. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html. Accessed February 13, 2019.
- Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html. Accessed February 13, 2019.
- Treatment for Prostate Cancer: External-Beam Radiation Therapy. Prostate Cancer Foundation. https://www.pcf.org/c/treatment-for-prostate-cancer-external-beam-radiation-therapy/. Accessed February 13, 2019.
- Data on file with Boston Scientific.