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FAQs About Prostate Cancer

Knowledge is your greatest defense against prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer & Sexual Health

Which treatment for prostate cancer can cause sexual problems, such as problems with erections?
Surgery and radiation therapies both carry a high risk of erectile dysfunction immediately following surgery. While localized treatment can moderate this risk, it is still a persistent side-effect of definitive prostate cancer treatment.
 
In the first few years after treatment for prostate cancer, which treatment is more likely to cause sexual problems with erections?Surgical prostate cancer treatment will have an immediate effect on sexual function including erectile dysfunction. Nerve-sparing surgery can increase the odds of a returning erections. Fifty percent of men who were able to hold an erection before surgery returned to sexual function after recovery.

Radiation has a delayed effect on sexual function.

In the first few years after treatment for prostate cancer, which treatment is most likely to cause dripping or leaking of urine?
In a prostatectomy there is a risk of dripping and leaking urine in the aftermath of surgery. Because of the prostate’s proximity to the bladder and urethra, surgery can leakage and minor incontinence. For most men this will improve over time. Radiation therapy is targeted at the prostate, but the bladder and the urethra, controlling urinary function, will be exposed to radiation. This exposure can cause irritation during and in the months after treatment leading to frequency and urgency.
 
In the first few years after treatment for prostate cancer, which treatment is most likely to cause bowel problems?
Both radiation and surgical treatment carry a very low risk of problems with bowel function. Bowel issues during radiation therapy include softer stool and a less than 10% occurrence of diarrhea. 2% to 3% of men may experience rectal bleeding as a result of radiation.
 
Can women get prostate cancer?
While women do not have prostates, the Skene glands are often referred to as the female prostate because they produce the same hormones as the male prostate. Both are believed to play a role in the female and male reproductive systems. Though male prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, female prostate cancer is rare.
 

Prostate Cancer Treatment & Management

For most men, what is the best plan for managing early state prostate cancer?
For some men with slow-growing tumor cells, frequent monitoring of the tumor can be a viable option for treatment. Because studies have shown that some low-risk prostate cancer does not decrease life expectancy, Active Surveillance is a good option with fewer side effects than more aggressive treatment. Actively Surveillance includes yearly or biannual DREs, PSA tests, and biopsies every one to five years. Active Surveillance can continue as long as the tumor growth remains slow and contained.
 
Which treatment takes the longest to complete?

Surgery to remove the prostate is an inpatient procedure that will include a one to two-night stay in the hospital. Patients typically return home with a catheter to drain urine for one to two weeks. Because at prostatectomy is major surgery, your physical activity will be limited in the months following surgery and will require physical therapy.

Radiation therapy is done on an outpatient basis. Traditional radiation is delivered Monday-Friday for seven to ten weeks for a total of 35-45 treatment. More recently radiation can be administered to certain prostate cancer patients in higher doses resulting in fewer treatments in a shorter period of time. Not all patients are good candidates for this course.

Brachytherapy involves temporary radiation seeds or catheters are permanently placed into the prostate. As the seeds emit radiation of the course of some months, the cancer slowly dies. Eventually the radioactive seeds will degrade, rendering them harmless to the patient.

For most men with early state prostate cancer, how much would waiting a few months to make a treatment decision hurt their chances of survival?
Generally, when caught early, prostate cancer is a slow-growing cancer that can be monitored. It is important to speak with your doctor about your specific prognosis. Some men may benefit from active surveillance, a course of treatment that tracks the cancer through testing, but without definitive treatment such as surgery or radiation.
 
Has radiation been shown to help men with early stage prostate cancer live longer than they would with no treatment?
Radiation treatments for prostate cancer can be divided into two main types: brachytherapy, or internal radiation, and external beam radiation.  When it comes to early stages of disease, patients very frequently do well with either brachytherapy or external beam radiation. Success rates of around 90% or higher can be achieved with either approach.  Cure rates for men with these types of cancers are about the same as those for men treated with radical prostatectomy.
 

Prostate Cancer Without Treatment

With treatment, how many men diagnosed with early state prostate cancer will eventually die of prostate cancer?
The prognosis for prostate cancer that is caught early is a good one. In the past 25 years, deaths from prostate cancer have been cut in half. In 1993 39.3 per 100,000 men died from prostate cancer. By 2014, that number shrunk to 19.1 per 100,000 men.
 
Without treatment, how many men diagnosed with early state prostate cancer will eventually die of prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer, when detected early have a optimistic prognosis. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute researchers found that only 2.4% of participants with slow-growing, early stage prostate cancer would die within 10 years of diagnosis left untreated.
 
Has prostate surgery been shown to help men with early stage prostate cancer live longer than they would have with no treatment?
A radical prostatectomy is a surgery to remove your entire prostate gland and seminal vesicles. Some of the lymph nodes in your pelvis are removed as well. This is done to prevent cancer from spreading from your prostate to other parts of your body.  Studies have shown that men with early stage abnormalities of the prostate who do not undergo surgery or radiation treatment, but whose condition is monitored for any progression of the cancer, live just as long as men who opted for complete removal of the prostate and now live with its immediate consequences, including incontinence, intimacy issues, bowel problems and intervention regret.

 
Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer?  Insist on consulting with a Urologist and a Radiation Oncologist immediately and before you decide on a treatment plan.  Call 309-451-2231 to schedule a consultation with a Radiation Oncologist.

 

More Prostate Cancer Information:

Symptoms of Prostate CancerProstate Cancer Information Collection | Prostate Cancer Treatment Options | Prostate Cancer Prevention & Risk Factors

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Operating Hours Mon – Fri 7:30 am - 5:00 pm