“What can I do to beat this disease?” That’s the first thought most women – and some men – have after being diagnosed with prostate cancer
Prostate Cancer Definition
Prostate cancer is defined as a cancer that occurs in the prostate. The prostate is a gland in men that produces seminal fluid. This fluid helps transport and nourishes sperm.
The prostate gland is about the same size and shape as a walnut. Most of the time, prostate cancer grows slowly and stays confined to the prostate gland, but in some cases it can act more aggressively and rapidly spread to other parts of the body.
As with most cancers, the chances for successful treatment increase dramatically when prostate cancer is detected early. Since it’s one of the most common cancers found in men, it’s important to understand personal risk factors and speak with a doctor about prevention.
Prostate Cancer Stages
If you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer, your doctor will run tests to determine the extent of the main tumor, and if it’s spread to lymph nodes or other parts of your body. This process is referred to as “staging,” which is a way of quantifying how much cancer is in the body and how aggressive it might be.
Staging also helps doctors develop a treatment protocol. While every human’s cancer is unique to them, staging offers a way to categorize a patient’s cancer and provide them with a prognosis based on statistical data.
To identify prostate cancer stages, doctors typically use the TNM Staging System. This system stages the cancer based upon the following information:
• The T stands for “tumor,” so this letter is used to define the extent of the primary prostate tumor
• The N stands for “node,” so this letter is used to define whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes
• The M stands for “metastasis,” so this letter is used to define whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body like organs or distant lymph nodes
Other information used to stage the cancer includes the Grade Group, and the PSA Level. The former measures the likelihood of the cancer growing, which is determined by a biopsy. The latter is a blood test that measures the prostate-specific antigen in an effort to determine whether the cancer has spread.
There are also two categories of “T” used for prostate cancer – clinical T and pathologic T. The former is a doctor’s estimate of the cancer’s extent based on certain test results. The latter is performed after prostate surgery and after the prostate has been examined in a lab. For this reason, pathologic T is often the more accurate of the two.
Using TNM for Prostate Cancer Staging
Once enough data is compiled, doctors use the TMN system to determine the stage of the cancer. Prostate cancer can range from Stage I to Stage IV, with lower numbers representing less spreading of the cancer, and higher numbers representing significant spreading through the body. Some stages are further broken down into subcategories. Every cancer is unique, but since cancers with similar stages often have a similar outlook, the idea is to use orthodox treatment protocols that have been effective for cancers with similar staging.
Let’s break down each of the prostate cancer stages.
Stage I Prostate Cancer – There are three distinct situations that can be described as Stage I prostate cancer. 1) The doctor does not see (via an imaging test) or feel the tumor, but it was diagnosed via needle biopsy or transeurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) because of a high PSA level. The cancer has also not spread. 2) The tumor can be felt or seen by a doctor and is in only half (or on one side) of the prostate. The cancer has also not spread. 3) The tumor was only in the prostate, which was removed with surgery, and the cancer has not spread. NOTE: In all three Stage I scenarios the Grade Group is 1 and the PSA level is less than 10.
Stage IIA Prostate Cancer – There are three distinct situations that quantify as Stage IIA prostate cancer. 1) The doctor can’t see the tumor with imaging and cannot feel it either. It was diagnosed via biopsy or TURP. The cancer has not spread. 2) The tumor can be seen with imaging or felt via digital rectal exam and is in one half or less (on only one side) of the prostate, or the tumor was in the prostate which was removed surgically. The cancer has not spread. 3) The tumor can be seen or felt as above but it is in more than half of one side of the prostate, or in both sides. The cancer has not spread. NOTE: In all three State I scenarios the Grade Group is 1 and the PSA level is less than 20.
Stage IIB Prostate Cancer – In this stage the cancer hasn’t spread outside of the prostate, and may or may have been seen or felt by the doctor as described above. The cancer has not spread. The Grade groups is 2 and the PSA Level is under 20.
Stage IIC Prostate Cancer – This stage is identical to Stage IIB with one exception – The Grade Group is either 3 or 4.
Stage IIIA Prostate Cancer – This stage is identical to Stage IIB but the Grade Group is 1 to 4 and the PSA Level is at least 20
Stage IIIB Prostate Cancer – The cancer has spread out of the prostate and may have entered the seminal vesicles or other tissues near the prostate like the rectum, bladder, walls of the pelvis, or urethral sphincter. The cancer has not spread anywhere else in the body, including nearby lymph nodes. The Grade Group is 1 to 4 and the PSA Level can be any value.
Stage IIIC Prostate Cancer – The cancer may or may not be growing into any nearby tissue, but it has definitely not spread into nearby lymph nodes or distant areas of the body. The Grade Group is 5 and the PSA Level is any value.
Stage IVA Prostate Cancer – The tumor may or may not be growing into any tissue near the prostate, but the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes. The cancer is not found anywhere else in the body. The Grade Group and PSA Level may both be any value.
Stage IVB Prostate Cancer – The cancer may or may not be growing into tissue or lymph nodes near the prostate, but it has spread to distant areas in the body like organs, bones, or distant lymph nodes. The Grade Group and PSA Level may be any value.
Obviously, there is a lot to process if you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Understanding your specific cancer is the first step toward developing a treatment protocol, so it’s important to weight your options and get an in-depth understanding of how the prostate cancer staging process works.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms (signs of prostate cancer)
In its earliest stages, prostate cancer may show no symptoms. Because a tumor in the prostate has nothing to grow against that causes pain, the disease may remain silent for quite a while. As it advances and/or spreads, certain signs and symptoms are likely to appear.
If you experience any of the following, you should talk to your doctor and assess the problem. By paying close attention to your body and any prostate cancer symptoms you may be experiencing, you have a better chance of catching the disease at an earlier stage.
• Problems urinating
• Blood in your semen
• A decrease in force when urinating
• Pelvic area discomfort
• Erectile dysfunction
• Bone pain
• Decrease in ejaculated fluid
• Rectal pain
• Pain in the hips, pelvis, lower back, or thighs
There are a number of other health reasons why these symptoms may appear. For this reason, it is recommended that you seek a diagnosis from a medical professional.
Are there any kinds of Prostate Cancer Screening
The short answer is yes, but there is much debate on the topic of its overall effectiveness. The best person to help you determine whether prostate cancer screening is a good idea for you is your doctor. There are two tests used to screen for the possibility of prostate cancer.
• Digital Rectal Exams (DRE) are performed by a doctor or nurse who inserts a lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the size and shape of the prostate. If they detect any lumps or abnormalities, they will likely recommend a biopsy.
• PSA Tests (Prostate-Specific Antigen) measure PSA levels in the blood. PSA is naturally produced by the prostate, but levels will be abnormally high in men with prostate cancer. However, there are other conditions that could elevate the PSA level, so your doctor will recommend a biopsy if your test levels are high.
Prostate Cancer Statistics
Understanding prostate cancer statistics helps to better understand risks associated with the disease, and develop more accurate prognosis for patients. Most of the prostate cancer statistics presented below were compiled over the last decade.
• Prostate cancer affects approximately 120 out of 100,000 men per year
• Approximately 20 out of 100,000 die from the disease per year
• In the year 2014, there were approximately 3 million men living with prostate cancer in the United States
• About 1 out of 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their life
• 6 out of 10 cases of prostate cancer are in men older than 65
• African-American men are more likely to get the disease then Caucasian men
• Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men (lung cancer is #1)
• Approximately 1 out of 41 men will die from prostate cancer
While some of these prostate cancer statistics seem dire, it’s important to remember that millions of men diagnosed with this disease are still alive today.
Causes of Prostate Cancer
As is the case with many forms of cancer, researchers cannot pinpoint a reason why people develop prostate cancer. There are certain risk factors that can increase the odds of prostate cancer, but how these factors cause prostate cells to transform into cancer cells remains a mystery.
When changes occur in the DNA of a normal prostate cell, cancer is formed. Some genes within cells help them divide, grow, and remain alive. These are called oncogenes. Other genes repair mistakes in the DNA, cause cells to die at the appropriate time, and keep cell growth under control. These genes are called tumor suppressor genes.
Mutations in the DNA can make oncogenes turn on at the wrong time, and/or make tumor suppressor genes turn off at the wrong time. Changes in the DNA can be genetic in nature, which means they were inherited from a parent, or they can be acquired through external factors.
Somewhere between 5% to 10% of prostate cancer cases were caused by inherited genetic mutations. This is referred to as “hereditary cancer.” There are several genes linked to hereditary prostate cancer, which can lead to increased risk. Researchers believe there are more and are conducting studies to identify them.
Gene mutations that are not hereditary are called “acquired mutations.” Most prostate cancer causes are due to acquired mutations, but it’s not clear how often changes in a person’s DNA are random or influenced by factors like diet, hormone levels, or exposure to radiation or chemicals. Sometimes studies contradict one another, which makes it even more difficult to find out just why prostate cancer develops in some people who are at little risk, but not in men at high risk.
Prostate Cancer Prevention
While there are no proven prostate cancer prevention protocols, a healthy diet and exercise may reduce risk of developing the disease. If nothing else, a healthy lifestyle will promote wellness and help prevent a number of other diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Some studies indicate that a healthy diet may lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. What follows are a list of dietary choices to consider if you’re worried about prostate cancer or have direct family members who have developed the disease.
• Low Fat Dietary Choices – Some studies show that men who consumed diets high in fat were more likely to develop prostate cancer. This means that reducing the amount of fat in your diet can help with prostate cancer prevention, but it will also prevent obesity and help your heart. You can lower your fat consumption by eating low-fat products, selecting lean cuts of meat, and adding fewer fats to foods when cooking them.
• Get Your Fat From Plants – Studies show that animal fats are more likely to cause prostate cancer than plant-based fats. Instead of cooking with butter, use olive oil, and avoid cooking with lard.
• Increase Your Daily Intake of Fruits and Vegetables – The nutrients and vitamins found in vegetables and fruit are believed to help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Adding a serving of fruit and a serving a vegetables to your diet will also take up room that could otherwise be taken by foods that are high in fat.
• Eat Plenty of Fish – While many animal fats may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer, fatty fish like salmon, herring, and tuna have Omega-3 fats, which are linked to a reduced risk of developing the disease. Flaxseed is another source of Omega-3s, so if you can’t stand the taste of fish, you may want to add this to your diet.
• Reduce your Dairy Intake – Dairy products like cheese and milk are linked to higher prostate cancer risk. Although this risk is considered small, keeping dairy in check will help you maintain a healthy weight.
• Maintain a Healthy Weight – Studies show that men with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or higher have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. A balanced diet and daily exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight, which is beneficial for reasons that go beyond mere prostate cancer prevention.
Prostate Cancer Treatments
If you’ve been diagnosed and staged for prostate cancer, you have many things to consider before deciding on treatment. First, you should talk to your doctor so that you fully understand the implications of any choice you make. Any treatment will have benefits and drawbacks which have to be weighed in order to make the best personal choice.
There are a number of treatment protocols for prostate cancer, which are employed one at a time or combined, depending on the nature of the tumor and its aggressiveness. To better understand prostate cancer treatments, let’s break them down one-by-one.
Watch and Wait – Prostate cancer typically grows very slowly, so many patients never need any kind of treatment, especially those who are of an advanced age. The Watch and Wait approach may be either active or passive. If active, surveillance is used to closely monitor the cancer in the form of PSA blood testing and digital rectal exams. The passive approach simply requires paying close attention to any symptoms that may indicate a change in the cancer’s status.
Surgery – The most common surgery performed for prostate cancer is called radical prostatectomy, which is the removal of the entire gland, the seminal vessels, and some surrounding tissue. This surgery is less common than it used to be. There are risks and potential side effects that should be considered before deciding on surgery.
Another form of surgery for prostate cancer is called transurethral resection of the prostate or TURP. This is the more common surgery of the two and it focuses on removing the inner part of the prostate gland that surrounds the urethra. This treatment is most often used to alleviate prostate cancer symptoms for those with an advanced condition.
Radiation Therapy – This form of prostate cancer treatment uses high-energy particles or rays to kill cancer cells. It’s most often used for low grads cancer, recurring cancer, and to keep advanced cancer under control and alleviate symptoms. The two types of radiation therapy are External Beam Radiation and Brachytherapy, which is internal radiation. There are risks and side effects associated with each, so any treatment protocol that utilizes radiation therapy should be carefully considered.
Cryotherapy – This may also be called cryoablation or cryosurgery, and it is the use of very cold temperatures to kill prostate cancer cells by freezing them. Cryotherapy is used to treat prostate cancer in its early stages, or if it returns after radiation therapy was used. As with other prostate cancer treatments, there are risks and side effects to cryotherpy and it may not be possible for some patients.
Hormone Therapy – This treatment protocol is also known as androgen suppression therapy and androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), and it’s goal is to stop male hormones from affecting prostate cancer cells or reduce hormone levels in the body of the patient. Since androgens make prostate cancer cells grow, lowering their levels within the body often make prostate cancers grow slower or even shrink. Hormone therapy is often used in tandem with other prostate cancer treatment protocols.
There are risks and side effects associated with hormone therapy, some of which (like surgical removal of the testicles) may be unappealing to many men.
Chemotherapy – This is the process of injecting cancer-fighting drugs into the bloodstream or taking them by mouth. This prostate cancer treatment is useful to fight cancers that have spread to distant organs or lymph nodes in a process called metastasis. Chemotherapy may be used to treat prostate cancer that has spread or when hormone therapy isn’t working.
Chemotherapy is associated with a wide range of risks side effects. Sometimes side effects can be treated by reducing or postponing drug treatment.
Vaccine Treatment – The cancer vaccine Sipuleucel-T is used to boost the body’s immune system to help it attack prostate cancer cells. This vaccine is often used in patients with advanced prostate cancer when hormone therapy is no longer effective, but symptoms aren’t apparent. While this prostate cancer treatment does not prevent cancer growth, it can help the patient live a few months longer.
Bone-Directed Treatment – Prostate cancer sometimes spreads to other parts of the body, and when it does it almost always heads to the bones first. Not only is bone metastasis painful, it can cause other problems like broken bones and even death. If cancer has grown outside of the prostate, bone-directed treatment is meant to prevent its spread the bones. If it’s already in the bones, then controlling complications and relieving pain are primary considerations.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
Bone-directed treatments may include drugs, pain medicines, or radiopharmaceuticals. As with other prostate cancer treatments, each bone-directed treatment has potential risks and side effects so you need to be fully informed of all options.
Alternative Treatments Used for Prostate Cancer
The prostate cancer treatments listed above are considered conventional because they are prescribed by mainstream medicine. Alternative treatments used for prostate cancer are any that fall outside of the mainstream orthodoxy. Some alternative treatments have little scientific evidence to back up certain claims, but patients who have had success with those treatments will swear that they work.
Alternative treatments used for prostate cancer may also be “complimentary,” in that they are used in conjunction with mainstream treatment protocols. The goal of many alternative therapies is to boost the body’s natural ability to fight cancer by reinforcing the immune system. This goal may be accomplished through diet, vitamins and supplements, exercise, or other means.
Some alternative treatments focus solely on improving the quality of life of the patient. Persons suffering from prostate cancer or the side of effects of treatments like chemotherapy are often in a great deal of discomfort or dealing with depression. A simple massage may make a prostate cancer sufferer feel much more relaxed, and even though massage is not a cure for cancer, in this way it is considered an “alternative therapy.”
Some other common alternative treatments used for prostate cancer include:
1. Acupuncture 2. Chinese Medicine 3. Specific diets 4. Therapeutic Massage 5. Herbal remedies 6. Antineoplaston theraphy 7. Livingston-Wheeler Therapy 8. Revici’s Guided Therapy 9. Shark Cartilage
Unfortunately, there are often monetary considerations relative to cancer treatment, even though it’s something few people seem comfortable talking about. The truth is that mainstream cancer treatments are expensive, and even people with quality health insurance quickly run out of money when faced with the exorbitant costs of ongoing cancer treatment, loss of work, and a reduced quality of life.
Some alternative treatments feature testing and treatment protocols that are more affordable, or can be fine tuned to the patient’s budget.
Alternative treatments are also heavily focused on fighting the patient’s cancer, rather than the disease itself. As mentioned above, every person’s prostate cancer is unique, yet the staging process seeks to group different sufferers of the disease into similar treatment protocols. This is one reason why one form of treatment may work for one patient but not for another.
Alternative treatments that focus on a patient’s specific cancer may be very different than a protocol developed by a mainstream doctor. As a patient, you need to carefully weight your options against hard evidence to make the best choice in regards to your health.
Vitamins and Supplements Used in the Treatment of Prostate Cancer
Certain vitamins and supplements may help prevent or alleviate symptoms associated with prostate cancer. Some may be part of an alternative therapy diet used for prostate cancer. Vitamins can help your body in countless ways, so it’s important that your diet include a balance of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, leafy greens, and healthy fats.
Supplements may be necessary for those with vitamin deficiencies. For example, people living in northern climates are likely to have Vitamin D deficiencies, which is a serious condition linked to many health problems including cancer. A Vitamin D supplement can help ensure that someone living in the north is getting the levels that their body needs.
Other popular vitamins and supplements that many consider essential in relation to prostate cancer include:
• Green Tea • Lycopene • Modified Citrus Pectin • Pomegranate • Selenium • Soy • Vitamin D • Vitamin E • Multicomponent Therapies • Other Health Supplements
As mentioned earlier in this article, Omega-3s have cancer-fighting attributes that make them one of the most popular nutrients today. Fatty fish like salmon and flaxseed are rich with this fatty acid, but there are also supplements readily available at most health food and grocery stores.
Before taking any supplement, you should talk to your doctor and make sure its necessary and poses no health risk.
Natural Remedies that May Help Prostate Cancer
There are a number of natural remedies that may help prevent prostate cancer. Many natural remedies also have other health benefits that can improve wellness and quality of life. Some natural remedies are also capable of slowing the spread of prostate cancer, or increasing recovery prospects.
What follows is some brief information on some of the most popular natural remedies that may help prostate cancer.
• Antioxidants – Antioxidants protect cells from free radicals, which steal electrons from other cells in the body in an attempt to heal themselves. This process creates more free radicals and causes damage to DNA that can eventually lead to cancer. You can increase your antioxidant intake by eating more greens, vegetables, and fruits. Popular supplements that boost antioxidant levels are Vitamin E and C.
• Reducing Inflammation – Some studies indicate that inflammation contributes to cancer and other health problems. Processed foods and hydrogenate oils contribute to inflammation, so foods like this should be avoided. Supplements that may help with inflammation include Omega 3 fatty acids, curcumin, and quercetin.
• Detoxification – Another popular home remedy that may help prostate cancer is detoxification, or the process of releasing harmful toxins that are stored in our body. The goal is to release toxins without causing any damage, which is accomplished by sweating, regular bowel movements, exercise, and a healthy diet.
• Limit Exposure to Environmental Toxins that Contribute to Prostate Cancer – There are a number of ways to ingest or absorb substances that can damage the body and make it more susceptible to prostate cancer. Pesticides, cadmium, meat, and environmental estrogen from plastics and farm-raised fish can all contribute to poor health and should be avoided.
• Mainstream Cancer Therapies – One natural remedy is to avoid mainstream treatment protocols like chemotherapy since they weaken the immune system.
• Consuming Cancer Killing Substances – Some people claim that certain chemicals found in various herbs and vitamins are capable of killing cancer cells. Many of these treatments are controversial and supported only by colloquial evidence, so you should always weigh treatment options from an educated perspective.
If you have any questions or concerns about prostate cancer or treatment, schedule a free consultation at Causenta Cancer Treatment Center today.
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