Prostate Cancer

  • Overview


    Prostate cancer develops when abnormal cells in the prostate gland grow more quickly than in a normal prostate, forming a malignant tumour.

    Most prostate cancers grow slower than other types of cancer.

    Early (or localised) prostate cancer means cancer cells have grown, but they have not spread beyond the prostate. Some prostate cancers may spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones and lymph nodes. This is called advanced prostate cancer.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted and adapted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/prostate-cancer/

    © Cancer Council NSW 2013


    Symptoms


    Early prostate cancer rarely causes symptoms. This is because the cancer usually grows in the outer part of the gland and is not large enough to put pressure on the urethra. If the cancer grows and spreads beyond the prostate (advanced or metastatic cancer), it may cause:

    • pain or burning when urinating
    • increased frequency or difficulty urinating
    • blood in the urine or semen
    • pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
    • weight loss.

    These symptoms are common to other conditions, including benign prostate enlargement, and may not be a sign of advanced prostate cancer. If you are concerned and/or are experiencing any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted and adapted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/73663/b1000/prostate-cancer-29/prostate-cancer-symptoms/?pp=33838&cc=9541&ct=22

    © Cancer Council NSW 2013


  • External radiotherapy for prostate cancer


    External beam radiotherapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells or injure them so they cannot multiply. Radiotherapy is usually considered if you have early cancer and are otherwise in good general health. It may be used instead of surgery or in combination with surgery.

    Before your treatment session, a radiotherapy technician will set up the machine. You may see the radiation oncologist and have blood tests. Preparation usually takes about 1 hour. During the treatment session, you will lie on an examination table under the machine that aims at your prostate. Treatment is painless and each session usually takes about 15 minutes.

    Treatment is planned to ensure as little harm as possible to the normal tissue and organs surrounding the prostate. Modern machines are more accurate and can limit radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. Usually, you will have radiotherapy treatment every week day for up to eight weeks. Some newer machines have shortened treatments to five sessions.

    You can have radiotherapy as an outpatient and go to the treatment centre or hospital each day for your treatment session. Many men continue to work during the course of radiotherapy.

    Side effects of radiotherapy


    You may have some of the following side effects. Other side effects such as tiredness, bowel and bladder problems are becoming less common due to machines that are better at targeting the tumour.

    Erectile dysfunction (impotence) – Problems with erections are common after external radiotherapy in about 50% of men because of damage to the blood vessels needed for erections. Problems may not occur immediately, but may develop over time and be ongoing.

    Tiredness – When your body has to cope with the effects of radiation on normal cells, it becomes fatigued. Your weariness may build up slowly during treatment, it should go away when treatment is over but can last for up to about six months.

    Urinary problems – You may experience burning when urinating, or an increased urgency to urinate. These side effects usually go away after treatment, but your doctor can prescribe medication to reduce any discomfort you experience. Injury to the lining of the bladder can sometimes cause bleeding. This is called radiation cystitis. Radiation is unlikely to cause incontinence but it can cause a build-up of scar tissue that makes it difficult to urinate. It is important to report any problems to your doctor.

    Bowel problems – Some men may bleed when passing a bowel motion. This is caused by damage to the fine blood vessels in the lower bowel. It is important to let your doctor know if you experience rectal bleeding. A few men may have diarrhoea or difficulty holding on to their bowel motions. These problems are usually temporary, but see your doctor if they continue to check there isn’t another medical problem.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/75633/cancer-information/cancer-treatment/types-of-treatment/external-radiotherapy-for-prostate-cancer/?pp=33840&cc=254&&ct=22

    © Cancer Council NSW 2013


    Radical prostatectomy


    Your doctor may suggest surgery if you have early prostate cancer, are fit enough for surgery and expect to live longer than 10 years. The procedure is called a radical prostatectomy, which is the removal of the prostate gland, part of the urethra and the seminal vesicles, glands located close by that store semen. For more aggressive cancer, the adjacent lymph glands may also be removed (pelvic lymph node dissection).

    Radical prostatectomy may be performed using different surgery techniques (open, laparoscopic or robotic-assisted). Whichever approach is used, a radical prostatectomy is major surgery. Men usually return to normal activities within 2–6 weeks.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/75632/cancer-information/cancer-treatment/types-of-treatment/radical-prostatectomy/?pp=33840&cc=254&&ct=22

    © Cancer Council NSW 2013


    Androgen deprivation therapy


    Prostate cancer needs the male hormone testosterone to grow. Slowing the production of testosterone may slow the growth of the cancer or shrink it. This is called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) or hormone therapy.

    ADT is normally used when the prostate cancer cells have spread beyond the prostate. It will not cure the cancer but can keep it under control for many months or years. It can also help with symptoms such as pain caused by the cancer spreading, and make the symptoms of cancer temporarily reduce or disappear (temporary remission).

    The timing of ADT may vary. It may be given before radiotherapy or together with radiotherapy and may be continued after radiotherapy to increase the effectiveness of treatment.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/86654/cancer-information/cancer-treatment/types-of-treatment/androgen-deprivation-therapy/?pp=33840&cc=254&ct=22

    © Cancer Council NSW 2013


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