Prostate Cancer treatment

The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer—a prevalent disease that affects millions of people worldwide. It is the second most commonly occurring cancer in men. In the United States alone, almost 300,000 new cases of prostate cancer are expected in 2024. Although prostate cancer is a serious disease, most individuals diagnosed with it do not die from it.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 3 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still living today. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 96% of men who are diagnosed with the disease are still alive five years later. In other words, prostate cancer has one of the highest survival rates of any type of cancer—thanks largely to the slowness of its growth and spread, as well as early detection and solid treatment plans. Advancements in medical science and technology have led to newer—and more effective—methods of screening, detecting, and treating prostate cancer.

Some of these methods include 4Kscore tests, color doppler ultrasound, multiparametric MRI, robot-assisted prostatectomy, and image-guided radiation therapy. If you or someone you are close to has prostate cancer, understanding your choices can help you make better informed decisions about your treatment plan. In this guide, you can find out all about prostate cancer and the best treatments available. We also cover various factors to consider when thinking about a personalized care plan, as well as what to expect for each treatment option. Let’s get started!

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What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is a malignancy that develops in the prostate, a small walnut-shaped gland that is part of the male reproductive system and located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. In its early stages, prostate cancer may cause no symptoms.

However, as the disease progresses, the most frequent issues may include difficulty starting urination, weak urine flow or urine flow that starts and stops frequently, urgent need to urine (especially at night), difficulty emptying the bladder completely, pain or burning during urination, blood in the urine or semen, erectile dysfunction, painful ejaculation, and pain in the lower back, hips, or pelvis.

It’s important to note that these issues may not always be a sign of prostate cancer. Other conditions that cause similar symptoms include benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis. Regardless, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to check in with your doctor.

What Causes Prostate Cancer

No one knows for sure why prostate cells turn cancerous. But bottom line—if you’re a male, you are at risk for developing the malignancy. However, researchers have found several factors that can increase your risk. Some of the more common risk factors include:
The chance of having prostate cancer greatly rises after age 50. By some estimates, about 6 in 10 cases of the disease are found in males older than 65. 
For reasons not yet understood, African American men and Caribbean men of African ancestry are more likely to develop prostate cancer than men of other races. If you fall into this demographic, you are at greater risk of getting the disease at a younger age, and tend to have a more advanced case when it is found.
Family History & Genetics
Having a close family member like a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles your risk of getting this disease. The risk is even greater for men with several affected relatives—especially if their relatives were young when the cancer was found. Moreover, you are also at risk if you have Lynch syndrome or if you inherited mutated genes associated with increased breast cancer risk (i.e. BRCA1 and BRCA2).
Some studies have identified other prostate cancer risk factors, but the evidence is not so clear-cut. These other potential risk factors include smoking, obesity, consuming a lot of dairy products, sexually transmitted infections, prostatitis, and exposure to chemicals such as arsenic and Agent Orange. Remember: having one or more of these risk factors does not necessarily mean that you will get prostate cancer. What’s important here is to remember to stay proactive—discuss your personal risk factors with your doctor and be sure to undergo screening tests for the disease as recommended. Early detection and timely treatment can greatly improve the chances of successful prostate cancer management.

How is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?

When it comes to figuring out if you have prostate cancer, various screening and diagnostic procedures are available to provide valuable insights. In general, many cases of the disease are first found as a result of screening. Two tests that are typically used to screen for prostate cancer are:
Digital rectal examination (DRE)
In this test, a doctor or nurse inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for anything unusual, such as bumps or hard areas on the prostate that might be cancerous.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test
This test measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. In general, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. However, a PSA level may also be elevated due to other conditions beside cancer, such as prostatitis.
It should be noted that although these two screening tests can detect abnormalities that might suggest prostate cancer, neither of them are 100% perfect. Thus, you may need additional tests, which can include:
In this procedure, a long, thin, flexible, lighted tube called a cystoscope is put into the urethra and moved up into the bladder. The cystoscope enables a doctor to peer closely at the inside of the urethra and bladder and search for signs of prostate cancer.
Imaging tests
Various imaging tests used to detect prostate cancer may include Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which produces high-definition images and gives doctors a closer look at any irregularities in the prostate; Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS), a test that relies on soundwaves to make a black and white image of a prostate; Positron emission tomography (PET) scan, an imaging test where a doctor injects into the patient’s bloodstream a radioactive material called a tracer, which shows up on a special camera to help flag cancer cells; Computed tomography (CT) scan, which uses X-rays to take pictures of the inside of the body and helps detect if the cancer has spread.
A conclusive diagnosis for prostate cancer can only be confirmed by microscopically examining prostate cells. This is done via a doctor performing a biopsy. A biopsy is when a small piece of tissue is removed from the prostate and looked at and evaluated under a microscope to see if there are cancer cells. It also determines the cancer’s characteristics, such as the type and grade. The whole procedure is usually performed by a urologist and pathologist.
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How is Prostate Cancer Treated?

Decisions regarding prostate cancer treatment are complex and typically depend on various factors including the size and aggressiveness of the disease, the patient's age, overall well-being, personal preferences, and a treatment’s potential side effects. A care plan often involves a combination of therapies and remedies, tailored to your needs. Here's an overview of common treatment options:
Active surveillance
 For low-risk prostate cancer patients, doctors may recommend active surveillance. This approach consists of monitoring the cancer closely with regular check-ups. Treatment is deferred unless there are signs that the cancer is progressing
Radiation therapy
This treatment uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It can be delivered externally (outside the body) through a machine (external beam radiation therapy) or internally through implanting radioactive seeds directly into the prostate gland (brachytherapy). Radiation therapy is often used as the primary treatment for localized prostate cancer or in combination with other therapies.
 Surgical removal of the prostate gland, known as a prostatectomy, is a common treatment for cancer that hasn't spread beyond the prostate gland (localized.) The surgery can be performed through traditional open surgery or minimally invasive techniques such as laparoscopic or robotic-assisted surgery. Prostatectomies aim to remove the cancerous tissue while preserving urinary and sexual function.
Hormone therapy
Prostate cancer cells rely on male hormones called androgens (such as testosterone) to grow. Thus, hormone therapy, also called Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT), aims to reduce the levels of these hormones in the body or block their effects on prostate cancer cells. Treatment is given via medications that suppress the production of testosterone or obstruct its action. This type of therapy is often used in combination with other treatments for advanced or metastatic prostate cancer.
This treatment uses medications to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. While not typically used as a first-line treatment for prostate cancer, chemotherapy may be recommended for men with advanced or metastatic disease that has stopped responding to hormone therapy.
This therapy works by boosting the body's immune system to help it recognize and fight cancer cells more effectively. Certain immunotherapy drugs, such as checkpoint inhibitors, are being studied for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, particularly in cases where other treatments have been ineffective.
Targeted therapy
These types of medications are designed to interfere with specific molecules involved in cancer growth and progression (e.g. androgen receptors.) They are often used in combination with other treatments for advanced prostate cancer.
This treatment involves freezing prostate tissue to kill cancer cells. It's considered for some localized prostate cancers, especially if the cancer comes back after radiation therapy.

Decision-Making in Prostate Cancer Treatment (Picking the Right Plan for You)

As previously mentioned, treatment plans are often tailored to individuals and may involve a combination of the choices discussed above. It's important for you to discuss the potential benefits, risks, and side effects of each treatment option with your healthcare team to determine the most appropriate course of action. Assessing the best approach to treatment for prostate cancer is a critical step in managing the disease effectively.

Remember, prostate cancer is not a one-size-fits-all disease. Each patient's condition is unique, and the most favorable approach to treatment may vary from person to person. Working with a healthcare team allows you to receive personalized care and input attuned to your specific circumstances.

Part of this decision-making process involves weighing the potential benefits of treatment against the risks and side effects. For example, surgery and radiation therapy may offer the possibility of eradicating the cancer, but they can also lead to complications such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Hormone therapy may help slow the progression of advanced prostate cancer but can cause side effects such as hot flashes, bone fractures, lowered libido, and fatigue. In other words, even treatment itself can have a significant impact on your quality of life. By discussing the risks and benefits of each treatment option with your doctor, you can make decisions that align with your goals and priorities and minimize any negative effects on your life.

It’s important to note that even after treatment, patients with prostate cancer require ongoing monitoring and follow-up care to assess the effectiveness of treatment, watch for recurrence, and manage any long-term side effects or complications. Aside from working closely with your doctor to receive the appropriate care, there are other things you can do (or continue to do) to receive support throughout your survivorship journey, including keeping friends and family close, eating and sleeping well and exercising, staying informed about treatment and recovery, and connecting with other cancer survivors.

In short, effective communication between patients and doctors is an essential component of prostate cancer care. By collaborating with healthcare professionals, you can receive individualized care, make informed treatment decisions, and enhance your outcomes and quality of life.

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Why Choose BASS Cancer Center

BASS Cancer Center houses a comprehensive team of healthcare professionals, comprising esteemed medical and radiation oncologists, social workers, care coordinators, financial counselors, and patient education specialists dedicated to delivering advanced cancer care. Our team collaborates to tailor personalized treatment plans for each patient, providing unwavering support to them and their families throughout their journey.

Our center integrates cutting-edge PET/CT imaging technology, exemplified by the Biograph 6, and employs state-of-the-art therapeutic machinery. Among these, the MRIdian, an MRI-guided treatment system, offers non-invasive radiation therapy that enhances dose precision while minimizing exposure to healthy tissues. Additionally, the Elekta Versa HD, an innovative imaging and motion management technology, further elevates our capabilities in radiation therapy. Alongside these advancements, we offer a range of treatment options encompassing surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy to ensure thorough care for our patients.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, trust the team at BASS Cancer Center to provide exceptional care. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you in your fight against prostate cancer.

Expertise and Compassion

At BASS Cancer Center, you will find a knowledgeable and compassionate team of healthcare professionals dedicated to providing the best possible care for prostate cancer patients in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dr. Chao is a highly experienced and trusted prostate cancer radiation oncologist with over 14 years of experience in the treatment of prostate cancer. BASS utilizes the most advanced surgical techniques and cancer fighting technology to ensure the best possible outcomes for all patients.

BASS Cancer Center has made it a priority to invest in the best possible cancer treating technology for it's cancer patients.

Located in Northern California in Walnut Creek at 575 Lennon Ln, STE 153, Walnut Creek, CA 94598

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Prostate Cancer Treatment in Walnut Creek California