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Prostate Cancer >> Questions & Answers >> What Does Treatment For Prostate Cancer Entail And Does It Affect A Male’s Ability To Have Sex?

What Does Treatment For Prostate Cancer Entail And Does It Affect A Male’s Ability To Have Sex?

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The symptoms of prostate cancer are likely to present with an interruption with the flow of urine. You may have to wait for several minutes for your bladder to empty due to the pressure of the swollen prostate gland on the urethra. You may have to get up several times while sleeping to urinate and you may have difficulty starting your stream of urine. If the prostate is very swollen, it may make it impossible for you to void on your own. There could be pain or a burning sensation associated with urinating, and you may notice blood in your urine also. If you have prostate cancer, you may also experience pain in your back, hips and thighs. The pain may even feel like it is in your bones. It may be painful to have sex due to painful ejaculations. Any man at any age having any of the symptoms mentioned above should ask his doctor about the possibility of having prostate cancer. The attending physician my feel a biopsy is needed. The biopsy of the prostate gland is done with a needle aspiration of tissue. The following surgeries and treatments are used to treat men with prostate cancer.

Transurethral resection of the prostate

A transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is done laproscopically through the male urinary meatus. The surgeon inserts a long tube-like scope, called a cystoscope, into the opening at the head of the penis, and through the urethra until the prostate gland is reached. The cystoscope is used as a tool to visualize and to snip away pieces of the prostate. The TURP can be used as a means to collect samples of prostate gland tissue for a biopsy examination, and it can also be used to remove pieces of the prostate that are restricting the flow of urine from the bladder to the urethra.

Radical prostatectomy

A surgical procedure, called a radical prostatectomy, is done most commonly for Stage I and Stage II prostate cancer. This surgery can be done via the perineal or retropubic approach. A radical prostatectomy via the perineal approach is done through an incision through the male perineum, which is located between the scrotum and the anus. The radical prostatectomy done via the retropubic approach is done through an incision made in the lower abdomen, just above the pubic bone. The entire prostate gland is removed with a radical prostatectomy; approximately 60 percent to 80 percent of men who have a radical prostatectomy report they are impotent due to not being able to maintain a sufficient erection to have sexual intercourse. The drug, Viagra, is sometimes prescribed to help men achieve erections sufficient to have sexual relations. A small percentage of men experience urinary incontinence to some degree within the first two years of surgery. The perineal approach to this surgery is used to save nerve function to allow for erections to be possible; however, this approach isn’t always used. The retropubic approach is the better approach if the doctor suspects the lymph nodes are affected.

External beam radiation therapy

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) is done by an X-ray machine. It is the same kind of X-ray machine that is used on other forms of cancer. Prior to the 1980s the EBRT was not all that effective because the beams could not adequately penetrate the pelvis. Since the 1980s the most effectively used form of EBRT is the linear accelerator machine.

Radioactive seed implantation

Radioactive seed implantation, also known as Interstitial implantation and brachytherapy, is another form of radiation therapy. Interstitial implantation is done by implanting radioactive pellets into the prostate and the surrounding tissue. Radioactive seed implantation can be used by itself or in conjunction with EBRT.

Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is sometimes done when prostate cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body. The object of hormone therapy is to decrease the male hormone, testosterone. Hormone therapy can be done by having the testicles removed in a surgical procedure called an orchiectomy, or the male can take estrogen hormone to inhibit the production of testosterone. There are side effects associated with taking estrogen, such as hot flashes, growth of breasts, loss of libido, and impotence.

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