If the prostate cancer has only been found in the prostate or surrounding tissues, proton radiation therapy is used for Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3 cancer. Proton Therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer is called “conformal proton beam radiation therapy(3DCRT)”. Protons are considered positive atoms that do not cause major tissue destruction. Using a proton beam, this type of therapy can be used to destroy more prostate cancer cells without affecting other surrounding tissues. Unfortunately, the expense of the test is not approved by many insurance carriers and the treatment is only offered at several cancer centers throughout the country.
Prostate Cancer is the most diagnosed cancer when causes and attributes to the second leading cause of death in males behind lung cancer. African American males have a higher rate of prostate cancer diagnosed and unfortunately a high mortality rate from prostate cancer.
The most widely used method to detect prostate cancer is the core needle biopsy. Under the care of an urologist, a needle is inserted into the prostate and extracts tissues cells from the prostate. Depending on the doctor, there can be up to several tissue samples taken. Once the samples are obtained, the samples are sent to the lab for analysis. Sometimes if there are too many samples taken, it may miss areas where cancer cells may have been located. This creates a “false negative report.”
If cancer is found in the biopsy sample(s), then the sample is graded. The grading system is called the “Gleason grade.” The 1-5 grading system determines the change in the prostate cancer cells. Level 1 is normal. Levels 2-4 represent different features. Level 5 is graded as a tumor. Sometimes if several areas are involved, the level may be graded as a 2-4 depending on multiple areas of the sample.
After tests(x-rays, bone scans, MRI’s), the cancer is staged. There are four stages of Prostate Cancer-Stage 1, 2, 3, and 4. Each stage has a sub component based on the TNM system. The TNM system is (T) tumor, (N) surrounding lymph nodes and (M) no evidence of metastasis.
Another staging system called the “Whitmore-Jewett system” was used before the TNM system. The system stage the cancer levels as A, B, C, and D.
If the cancer is T1-T-3, N0-1 and M0, proton therapy can be used as the course of treatment.
T1 is described as no findings on ultrasound but cancer is found during TURP(transurethral resection) and during biopsy.
T2 is where cancer is found during a routine digital rectal exam but only involvement is with the prostate.
T3 is where cancer has been found beyond the prostate in the seminal vesicles.
T4 is where cancer is found near the bladder, rectum and beyond seminal vesicles.
N0 is where cancer is not found present in the lymph nodes.
N1 is where cancer is found surrounding lymph nodes of the prostate.
There are side effects associated with this treatment: bowel and bladder issues(diarrhea, trouble urinating, blood in the urine and stool), erectile dysfunction, infertility(reports indicate approximately 77% become infertile after therapy) and chronic tiredness which may never stop long after treatment ends.
If the patient underwent radiation therapy, it has been reported that 30% to 60% percent will experience erectile dysfunction. The type of radiation therapy used will dictate the severity of the ED.
If the patient is experiencing incontinence in the recovery phase of prostate cancer treatments, there are several ways medical professionals help alleviate the symptoms. There are 3 types of incontinence: stress, overflow, and urge. Stress incontinence involves a dysfunction of the bladder sphincter. This condition is caused by possible nerve damage during prostate surgery. Overflow incontinence is the excessive amount of urine held in the bladder. This condition is caused by pressure from the prostate. Urge incontinence is not being able to control urine output. This condition is caused by the effects of prostate cancer.
The methods used to treat incontinence are: dietary changes which alleviate symptoms from offending foods, medicines that prevent spasms in the bladder and ureters, bladder feedback programs and incontinence products (collagen injections, bladder pads and special condoms used to control leakage).