In honor of November being Movember – an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide –I wanted to take some time to share important information on men’s prostate health, the importance of screening, and treatment of prostate cancer.
Prostate Health & Diseases
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that is found only in males. It is just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate wraps around the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. The prostate has an important role in producing a thick, white milky fluid that becomes part of semen, which is the fluid ejaculated during sexual activity.
Due to the location of the prostate, it has a predisposition to cause problems should things go awry. The prostate specifically is prone to three main conditions:
- Prostatitis: inflammation or swelling of the prostate
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia: an aging-related enlargement of the prostate
- Prostate cancer: the growth of cancerous cells in the prostate
Regarding prostate cancer, it generally affects older men. Adenocarcinomas are the most common type of cancer and develop from the gland cells. In addition, there are four other types of rare prostate cancers:
- Small cell carcinomas
- Neuroendocrine tumors
- Transitional cell carcinomas.
Importance of Prostate Screening
According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
Although commonly dreaded by most men, this makes prostate screenings even more imperative as prostate cancer often develops without symptoms or warnings. Luckily, annual PSA (Prostate- Specific Antigen)and DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) testing can lead to early detection and a higher rate of survival. If detected and treated early, the 5-year survival rate of prostate cancer is thankfully 100 percent. Thus, a simple 15-minute screening can save a man’s life.
Treatment of Prostate Cancer
There are several different treatments used to treat prostate cancer, some of which include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, cryotherapy, hormone therapy, as well as vaccine treatment. Surgery and radiation are the most invasive treatment options. Conversely, a relatively new treatment option, called cryotherapy, is a more minimally invasive option for those suffering from prostate cancer. Many patients are not aware of cryotherapy, and I wanted to share more information about this less invasive option.
How Cryotherapy Works
Cryotherapy or cryoablation is a treatment used to kill cancer with extreme cold. This treatment can be used for “several different types of cancers, including bone, cervical, eye, kidney, liver, lung, and prostate cancers” (“Cryoablation for Cancer,” Mayo Clinic, 2017, para 1). Cryotherapy also works to reduce the pain associated or caused by cancer. This form of therapy may also be used to treat those with other conditions, aside from cancer, like nerve conditions. According to the Mayo Clinic, “During [topical] cryoablation, a thin, wand-like needle (cryoprobe) is inserted through your skin and directly into the cancerous tumor (“Cryoablation for Cancer,” 2017, para 1). The cryoprobe is inserted using a small incision placed between the anus and scrotum. Advanced imaging technology, such as ultrasounds are used by the doctor to navigate the cryoprobe to the affected area. Then, an argon or nitrogen gas is pumped through a cryoprobe to freeze the diseased tissue. Afterwards, the tissue is left to thaw. This freezing and thawing process is used several times during the procedure until the cancer is removed.
Benefits of Cryotherapy
In addition to being minimally invasive, cryotherapy sessions are also quick and convenient as they only last a few minutes. Another benefit is that general anesthesia is not required, as an epidural may be used instead. This greatly benefits older men who have health conditions whom general anesthesia may not be good for. Other benefits may include:
- Less blood loss
- Shorter hospital stay (usually one or two nights)
- Shorter recovery period
- Less swelling and pain than standard surgery for prostate cancer.
Dr. Tay Prostate Screening Event!
I will be performing quick, 15-minute prostate cancer exams on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at the Prostate On-Site Project mobile event hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks & PHX SUNS.Remember 15 minutes could save your life – 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Fortunately, if detected and treated early, the 5-year survival rate of prostate cancer is 100 percent.
Resources & Citations
Cryoablation for cancer. (2017, October 26). Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cryoablation-for-cancer/about/pac-20385216
Cryotherapy for Prostate Cancer Treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/guide/cryotherapy-prostate-cancer-treatment#2
Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Prostate Health & Disease. Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/prostate-health-and-disease
Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer | Prostate Cancer Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
Welcome to the Prostate On-Site Project. (n.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://prostatecheckup.org/