Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men, especially men over the age of 50. It is usually very slow to develop, and many men do not realize they have it because there are often no signs and symptoms until the cancer is more advanced.
Early testing is essential for the detection of prostate cancer, and this is often through prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing. This helps to catch the cancer when it is still very small and confined to the prostate gland.
Here is a guide to some of the treatments available for anyone diagnosed with prostate cancer, with a focus on new and exciting treatments that are currently being developed.
The Problem with Existing Treatments
Developments in the treatment of prostate cancer are constantly ongoing, and while there are many types of treatment available these often have side effects. Some of the most common side effects of standard treatments can include erectile dysfunction and incontinence, and this can affect the quality of life of the cancer victim.
For this reason, many men choose to use active surveillance instead. This is where the cancer is monitored by a medical professional but not actually treated. Because prostate cancer often grows so slowly, it may be many years until it spreads and becomes a more serious problem, so some people choose to wait rather than getting it treated immediately, delaying their treatment until it becomes more necessary.
The problem with this is that it can cause anxiety in the sufferer, who does not know when the cancer may become more serious.
As a result, it is important to look at other available treatments, and there are some exciting new developments in this area. Here are some to look out for.
High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound
One of the most exciting new treatments for prostate cancer is high intensity focused ultrasounds (HIFU). This type of treatment uses sound waves to kill the cancerous cells.
A transducer generates the sound waves, and the tissue absorbs energy that is deposited by the sound waves. The intensity is very high compared to standard sound waves, and it is all focused on one single point. This sends a huge amount of energy to the affected tissue, and this energy creates heat and damages the cancerous cells.
The technique is used to destroy a very small volume of tissue in one go, and the soundwaves are then focused on the next area. Different areas are treated in turn until the entire prostate is treated. The nature of the treatment means that other tissues are not damaged, and a number of scientific papers now suggest that it can be effective in treating prostate cancer.
Radiation therapy has been used to treat various types of cancer for years, but new advances make it easier to aim it more precisely.
Conformal radiation therapy (CRT) and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) are two of the new methods that are being used. These can be effective because they help to prevent the radiation affecting other healthy tissues in the body, which can lead to fewer side effects.
There is also a lot more research into natural remedies at the moment, such as the role that nutrients can play. Research is ongoing, and it is focusing on extracts from various foods like broccoli, flaxseed, and pomegranate, all of which have shown signs that they could affect the growth of the cancer.
It’s still early days and there is no conclusive proof, but this is an area to watch in the future.
Immunotherapy involves giving a boost to the immune system to help fight the cancerous cells in the body, and it is often used in the form of prostate cancer vaccines.
Again, this is quite a new form of treatment, but it is hoped that it can help to treat prostate cancer without so many side effects. Provenge (sipuleucel-T) is one of the vaccines used, and PROSTVAC is another one that is undergoing testing.
New types of hormone therapy are being developed, and these have shown to be effective even when standard hormone therapy has not worked. Enzalutamide is one of the types of therapy, and Zytiga (abiraterone acetate) is another, but there are others that are being studied.
Always Consider Your Options
Talk to your doctor to find out about the various options for prostate cancer treatment. It may be the case that treatment is not necessary for now, but always find out what your doctor recommends.
And if you have not been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may want to get regular checks such as the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Again, speak to your doctor to find out what they recommend.
Harry Patterson works in the healthcare industry and every once in a while finds time to share his knowledge and thoughts online through his articles. He is a Father of 1 daughter and enjoys sailing on weekends.
Photo by Kyrre Gjerstad