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Understanding Prostate Cancer

The risk of prostate cancer increases with age. Approximately 1 in 6 men will get prostate cancer. The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown. It may be related to heredity, viruses, and fat in the diet.

The prostate gland is located at the base of the penis just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It produces the fluid that transports semen during ejaculation. The size and shape of the prostate gland varies considerably among different men.

Prostate cancer, like other cancers, is a disease of the body’s cells. Normal cells reproduce themselves by dividing, facilitating growth and replacing worn-out and injured tissue.

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. Occasionally, cells grow abnormally into a tumor mass (cancer). Cancers invades and destroys nearby tissues and organs or spreads to other parts of the body. If not treated early and effectively, prostate tumors can grow and spread into other tissues such as the lymph nodes and bones. Many cancers grow without symptoms for months or years before detection. Early detection is the key to successful treatment.

Treatment Goals

Treatment should be chosen in such a way that it minimizes trauma and complications. However, it should also provide a good quality of life and maximum chance for curing the disease. Ideally, the treatment should be easily tolerated and cause minimal problems.

Some men have an aggressive form of cancer that can lead to death. In other men, slow growing prostate cancers may cause few if any problems during their natural lifetime. European studies of “watchful waiting” have suggested that it is an option for some elderly men. But experts also report there is no absolute way to determine, if a man’s prostate cancer will be aggressive or slow-growing.

Slow-growing cancers could in time become life threatening. For most men whose disease is confined to the prostate, medical experts in the United States recommend treatment rather than waiting and watching.

Treatment Options

The three treatment options patients choose most often today are (1) radioactive seed implantation known as “Internal Radiation or Brachytherapy”; (2) External beam radiation therapy in various forms (IMRT, 3-D Conformal, Tomotherapy, Cyberknife, and proton beam); (3) prostatectomy surgery (Radical or Robotic.)

Things to Remember

  • One out of six men will develop prostate cancer.
  • Prostate cancer can be treated successfully if it is found early.
  • A treatment decision does not have to be made overnight but neither should it be put off for months.
  • Patients should always insist on a second opinion, this is an important decision. Insurance companies encourage second opinions.
  • Patients and their families should take a detailed list of questions to ask their doctor . Write down the doctor’s answers. Another person, wife or friend, can act as an effective advocate.
  • The doctor should have personally done a minimum of 100 of the procedures he is recommending and treat the whole person and not just the prostate.
  • Patients are not alone. Skilled, caring physicians are available. There are many support groups and resources for additional information.

Dr. Cole’s 30 years of experience has helped thousands of patients complete the treatment.

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