A new study shows nearly half of men feel worse after having their prostate gland removed due to cancer, although three-quarters would do it again given the same circumstances.
Tens of thousands of men each year undergo the surgery, called prostatectomy, and may suffer long-term consequences to their quality of life, in particular sexual function.
In the current study, published in the Journal of Urology, researchers asked 236 men how they were doing up to 1 year after surgery.
Three out of four had regained their physical and mental well-being and had no more problems with incontinence than before the operation. But just one out of four had recovered his ability to have intercourse.
The research team, led by Dr. Adrian Treiyer at St. Antonius Hospital in Eschweiler, Germany, also teased out the circumstances that were tied to better recovery.
Men were more likely to get their quality of life back if they had a type of surgery that leaves the nerves controlling erection intact, for instance, and if they participated in a rehabilitation program.
While the study doesn’t prove that rehab is helpful — men who did better might be likely to join such a program, for example — the possibility is worth noting, said Dr. Mark Litwin, a urologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study.
Rehab programs, which are relatively new in prostate cancer care, can include talk therapy or a drug regimen to treat erectile dysfunction.
“It’s not just about recovery of the penis and its ability to become erect, but helping men come to terms with being a cancer survivor,” Litwin told Reuters Health.
Both physical well-being, such as experiencing less pain, and mental health, including feeling good and functioning well socially, were tied to remaining continent and not encountering any complications after surgery.
“Some of these things, no one can control, such as baseline PSA,” Litwin said. “But some they can. Patients can doctor-shop and find the best care.”
In the type of surgery the patients had, surgeons make a cut between the belly button and the pubic bone to get to the prostate, which is then removed entirely — so-called radical prostatectomy.
About one in six American men get prostate cancer at some point in their life, according to the American Cancer Society. But they don’t necessarily have to have their prostate removed because of it.
Some may get radiation treatment instead, or they may have their tumor destroyed by a kind of surgery that uses freezing liquids. Others may choose just to be monitored — so-called watchful waiting — to see if the cancer grows slowly enough to be safely ignored.
All of these strategies have problems of their own, and the right option depends on both the cancer and the patient’s values.
Litwin said most studies have focused on the drawbacks to prostate cancer surgery, and indeed, the new findings confirm that most men have worse sexual function after the procedure.
“Quality of life definitely takes a hit, both physically and emotionally,” Litwin added, “but ultimately, it tends to go back to normal.”
Dr. Merlin, of RC Cancer Centers, discusses prostate cancer and answers many common questions relating to the topic.
For those looking for a meaningful commitment on Valentine’s Day, RC Cancer Centers along with the Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition, Atlanta Hawks, KISS 104.1, Atlanta Thrashers, WSB Radio, UPS, C.R. Bard, WXIA Television and Morehouse School of Medicine have issued a challenge to have 10,000 men in Georgia pledge to engage in a conversation with their doctors and/or get screened for prostate cancer between now and April 30, 2011.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common non-skin cancers in America. It affects 1 in 6 men and accounts for 28 percent of all new cancer cases among Georgia males each year. Getting a loved one tested may be the greatest gift of all this Valentine’s Day.
“Early detection is the greatest preventative measure a person can take,” says Dr. Mark Merlin radiation oncologist at RC Cancer Centers. More than 2 million men in the U.S. have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point and are still alive today, according to the American Cancer Society.
“It is crucial for men to maintain an ongoing relationship with their healthcare provider as the risk for prostate cancer will vary from person to person,” says Dr. Philip Shrake, radiation oncologist at RC Cancer Centers.
Show romance and affection a little differently this year and encourage the one you love to get a prostate cancer screening and start the dialogue with their doctor this Valentine’s Day.
RC Cancer Centers has partnered with the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers, UPS, CR Bard, WXIA Television, Morehouse School of Medicine, KISS 104.1 Radio and WSB Radio to support the Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition in an effort to better educate men about their health choices and raise awareness about prostate cancer in the state of Georgia.
The prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening is a simple blood test that RC Cancer Centers is encouraging you to do for your love. Do it for each other.
To take the pledge or learn more about the Georgia Pledge Campaign, visit www.GeorgiaProstateCancerPledge.com.
Prostate cancer is a serious health concern in Georgia. According to the American Cancer Society, the state of Georgia ranks 11th in number of estimated deaths per capita from the disease. In an effort to raise awareness about prostate cancer and ensure more men commit to be informed and screened, several companies and media organizations have joined the Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition in launching a pledge campaign.
The Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition, RC Cancer Centers and the Georgia Department of Community Health along with the Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Thrashers, UPS, CR Bard, WXIA Television, Morehouse School of Medicine, KISS 104.1 Radio and WSB Radio are supporting this initiative to increase prostate cancer awareness throughout the state of Georgia.
“Specifically, we are encouraging every man who is over the age of 40 in Georgia to speak to his doctor and take the pledge to get screened for prostate cancer,” said Frank Catroneo, Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition Board Member. “Our goal is to have 10,000 men in Georgia pledge to have the conversation with their doctors and/or be screened between now and April 20, 2011.”
M. Rony Francois, MD, MSPH, PhD, Director, DCH Division of Public Health and State Health Officer said, “I look forward to the potential that this pledge campaign holds in increasing the number of men who talk to their doctor about prostate cancer screening.”
To encourage prostate cancer discussions and screenings, the Atlanta Hawks and the Georgia Prostate Cancer Pledge committee will provide two tickets to several Atlanta Hawks home games, starting with the December 7th home game versus the New Jersey Nets, to the first 2,000 men who commit to being screened for the first time. Men can visit http://www.hawks.com/ or http://www.georgiaprostatecancerpledge.com/ to make their screening pledge and redeem their complimentary tickets online.
There will be a number of activities and events to help educate men and their loved ones, and to bring awareness to the serious health impact of prostate cancer for all concerned. The events will culminate in April with a prostate cancer symposium, a golf tournament, a motorcycle ride, video testimonials of survivors and much more.
Michael Holton, president and COO of RC Cancer Centers, which specializes in the ProstRcision treatment for prostate cancer said, “Throughout the campaign, we will be offering free of charge PSA screenings for men over 40 years old, who have not been diagnosed with prostate cancer or previously treated for this disease. They can be screened at any one of our five locations in Georgia. For screening locations, visit http://www.rccancercenters.com/.”
Current data available from Georgia Department of Community Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Cancer Society show:
“It is crucial for men to maintain an ongoing relationship with their healthcare provider as the risk for prostate cancer will vary from person to person,” said Roland Matthews, M.D., from Morehouse School of Medicine and Director of Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Health System.
A prostate screening PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) is a simple blood test which will not define a man’s prostate cancer status, but provides the basis for men to start the right conversations with their doctor. When prostate cancer is detected early, it is a very curable disease.
To learn more about this prostate cancer initiative, visit www.GeorgiaProstateCancerPledge.com .
Bob is a great grandfather who beat prostate cancer and runs marathons. He’s got a great story to tell.
Men with low PSA levels from a baseline blood test were less likely to develop prostate cancer compared to men whose baseline PSA levels were high, according to a new study.
The simple test may be a strong predictor of who will benefit from future screening and treatment for prostate cancer, according to the study published Monday in the journal Cancer.
More than 85,000 men, ages 55 to 74, with no previous prostate cancer history were the subjects of the study. The authors found that in order to save one life, they needed to investigate almost 25,000 men with low PSA levels but only 133 men with high ones. Similarly, they needed to treat 724 men who had low PSA levels to save one life but only 60 men whose levels were higher.
PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, is a protein found in prostate cancer tissue. When that tissue breaks down, the protein seeps into the bloodstream. The heavier the presence of PSA in the blood, the more likely prostate cancer will be dangerous and require some type of treatment, said Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer at American Cancer Society and a contributor to CNNHealth.com.
But aren’t all cancers bad, even if a man’s PSA level is low?
“There are a large number of prostate cancers that don’t need to be treated because they’re not a health threat to the man who has them,” explained Brawley. That makes guidelines for screenings more difficult to set.
The American Cancer Society encourages men to work with their doctors to learn about the test’s benefits and risks before making an informed personal decision around age 50. Research has not yet proven that the potential benefits of testing outweigh the harms of testing and treatment, explains the organization.
The American Urology Association recommends baseline screening for men at age 40 with future screenings determined in conjunction with the patient’s doctor.
“This can’t be done in a vacuum,” said Dr. J. Brantley Thrasher, spokesman for the American Urology Association and the William L. Balk Chair of the Department of Urology at the University of Kansas. “We need to let [patients] know this is an imperfect marker, but we’re getting data that may help us in the future.”
It’s difficult to accept the idea that you could have prostate cancer that doesn’t need to be treated and could be left alone with no harm, while other men have aggressive and deadly prostate cancers. Brawley, who chooses not to be screened, thinks this is why most men get PSA tests regularly, despite the many risks associated treatment.
“By choosing to get screened, there is a guaranteed increase in diagnosis… but there is only a potential decrease in death,” said Brawley.
Some of the risks of treatment include impotence, incontinence and bowel injury.
Still, Thrasher says the importance of the PSA blood test should not be diminished. He tells his patients to get regular screenings every other year or every three years after their initial test.
“I believe knowledge is power to some extent,” said Thrasher. “It’s risks versus benefits… and each decision point is a fork in the road where [me and patients] have to have a discussion.”
Two years after undergoing a double mastectomy and chemotherapy so severe she was hospitalized in intensive care for several weeks, breast cancer survivor Denise Hicks should be following what her doctors call “the plan.”
“I should be taking medication, I should be having tests and lab work,” says the 51-year-old Californian. “But my choice is to pay virtually every cent I have to do that or be able to pay for my rent, food and gas.”
Hicks has health insurance but already reached her coverage limits. So the CT scan that her oncologist “strongly advised” months ago to check a possible recurrence remains undone. “It would cost me $4,700 out of pocket—money I just can’t afford.” She’s also skipping recommended medications. “One drug would cost me $167 a month and another is $200 a month,” she says.
“So what am I doing? Well, I may soon be moving in with my 83-year-old mother, who lives in a trailer. But for now, I pray a lot,” Hicks says. Click here to read the full article.
It is not surprising that research indicates that men squirm at the thought of modern medicine’s devices probing them for clues to prostate health. There is little discomfort in a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) screening. A PSA is a simple blood test that can save a man’s life.
To facilitate a man’s decision on prostate cancer screening or treatment, an informed and shared decision is recommended. Elements that foster an informed and shared decision include:
Part of the human toll taken by prostate cancer is the sense typically experienced by newly diagnosed patients of a loss of personal control over their lives. Learn about the diagnosis and the various treatment options available to you.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has produced two guides to assist men in making the decision on whether to get screened for prostate cancer.
Both guides are available at no cost through the CDC at:
Take control of your prostate health. And help other men do the same!
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Also known as RC Cancer Centers.