Monday, March 14, 2011

Prostate Cancer: A Roller Coaster of a Ride

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed type of cancer in American men. According to the American Cancer Society, “about 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.” Out of every 36 American men, one will actually die from prostate cancer.

Although that is an unpleasant statistic, there are at least two million American men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer that are still alive today, thanks to ongoing advancements in cancer treatments.

Prostate cancer is exactly what it sounds like: it’s cancer of the prostate (the male reproductive gland found in the urethra that secretes semen). Slowly over time cells located in the prostate glands begin to mutate into cancerous cells. In some cases, the cancer spreads quickly, but in most cases it spreads slowly over time. In fact, most men live their entire lives without exhibiting symptoms of prostate cancer.

Stanley M. Redwood, M.D. FACS, Chief of the Department of Urology at Sinai Hospital, gave an enthusiastic Grand Rounds presentation last week that addressed prostate cancer, its risk factors and its various methods of treatment titled “The Prostate Cancer: A Roller Coaster.” For those who aren't familiar with the disease, some of the symptoms include:

• Frequent urination
• Burning during urination
• Painful ejaculation
• Inability to have an erection
• Blood in the urine and semen

If left untreated, advanced prostate cancer can spread to other parts of the body such as the pelvis, ribs and spine. It can also lead to bone pain and tenderness.

Although prostate cancer causes many physical problems in men, Dr. Redwood explained that it can also be a major cause of male insecurity. Since women naturally go through menstruation, society is more accepting that they need to buy items such as feminine pads. But for a man with prostate cancer who can’t control his bladder, it’s almost always humiliating to walk down an isle in a store to buy male sanitary napkins.

Dr. Redwood also explained the different risk factors for prostate cancer. These include:
• Genetics – Occurs in 5-10 percent of males.
• Diet – A diet higher in fat leads to an increased risk of prostate cancer. Soy products are a great way to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
• Hormones – Using anabolic steroids increases the risk of prostate cancer.
• Race - African American males have a much higher risk for prostate cancer than Caucasian males. In fact, darker pigmented males (such as those of native African descent) are at an even higher risk of getting prostate cancer.

Here is an age-related breakdown of prostate cancer cases found in African American men:




1 in 10149


1 in 38


1 in 14


1 in 7


1 in 6

Treatment options for prostate cancer include:

• Anti-Androgen Hormone Therapy – Using hormones to block certain cell receptors.
• Taxotere (Docetaxel Injection) – Used with other medications to stop the spread of cancer cells.
• Brachytherapy – Implanting radioactive “seeds” into the cancerous tissue.
CyberKnife® – A non-invasive robotic surgery that uses beams of radiation, available at Sinai Hospital.
• Taxotere Chemotherapy – Intravenous chemotherapy.
• Radical Robotic Prostatectomy – Surgery performed remotely using a robot.
• Intensity-Modulate Radiation Therapy - Small radiation beams are aimed at a tumor from different angles.
Da Vinci Surgical System – Surgeons control a robotic platform with their hands, available at LifeBridge Health.

Even though it’s rare for men to get prostate cancer before they are 40 years old, it is still wise for men in their 20s and 30s to get an exam every few years. Once they hit 45, they should get one every year.

To learn more about prostate cancer and other cancer-related conditions visit the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute.

You can also read these previous blog posts about prostate cancer:
Prostate Cancer Screening at Northwest Hospital
Guidelines for Prostate Cancer Screening Revised

-Trish Smith

1 comment:

David Emerson said...

Not only is prostate cancer difficult but survivors/caregivers have to figure out oncology bias-

David Emerson