he prostate is a male gland located just beneath the bladder. No larger than a walnut, the gland is responsible for producing seminal fluid. The male urethra is surrounded by the prostate. Enlargement, injury to or disease of the prostate may cause difficulty and painful urination, sexual dysfunction and other symptoms. Prostate cancer is considered to be a malignant type of cancer that forms in the tissues of the prostate, but a variety of treatments are available to individuals, depending on the stage of cancer when diagnosed.
Diagnosing Prostate Cancer
Diagnosing disease or cancer of the prostate is generally performed through diagnostic blood work and a physical exam called a digital rectal exam (DRE). A prostate specific antigen test (PSA) measures the levels of a substance produced by the prostate in the blood. These levels are elevated in men diagnosed with various stages of prostate cancer, though high levels of PSA may also be found in men who have non-cancerous issues of the prostate including inflammation, enlargement or infection.
Another test to determine prostate cancer is called a Transrectal ultrasound. A probe is inserted into the rectum, where it emits high energy sound waves to form pictures of internal body tissues in a process called a sonogram. The Transrectal ultrasound technique may also include a biopsy, or removal of a small section of tissues, that will be examined by a pathologist to determine whether or not abnormal cells are benign (non-cancerous) or malignant.
Treatments For Prostate Cancer
The possibility, potential, and outcome of various treatments for prostate cancer will depend on the stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis. The stage will be determined on whether or not the prostate alone or surrounding organs or other parts of the body show signs of cancerous growth. Outcome is also determined by the overall health an age of the patient, as well as levels of PSA in the blood.
The most common treatments for prostate cancer include:
However, clinical trials are now being conducted to offer new types of treatment for prostate cancer including but not limited to:
Traditional treatment methods of surgery include removal of lymph nodes in the pelvis in a procedure called a pelvic lymphpadenectomy. For other patients, a radical prostatectomy may be recommended, which removes not only the prostate, but surrounding tissues, including seminal vesicles. Two types of radical prostatectomy are usually performed:
How Much Do Prostate Cancer Treatments Cost?
In the United States, radical prostatectomy and a radiation therapies often average up to $30,000. Newer treatments and protocols may be higher, depending on severity or stage of cancer at diagnosis, geographical location, and technology used. Laparoscopic prostatectomy may average around $8,000, and doesn't include radiation or additional therapies that may be required for optimal prognosis.
International travelers may save up to 50% on costs of similar surgical procedures and drug treatment therapies in locations such as India, Germany, Jordan, the Ukraine and Thailand, as well as locations throughout Mexico and South America.
Who Provides Cancer Treatment and Surgeries?
In most cases, primary care physicians will refer patients to a cancer specialist. These specialists are trained in the field of oncology. Patients should look for experience, training, and that the specialist of their choice has been board-certified in specific areas of medicine. The physician who is board-certified in medical oncology or surgery will ensure their qualifications in their field.
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