Cancer is one of the fatal diseases and has claimed several lives over the years. Today, a huge population is affected by this deadly disease and the inability to cure this disease in the final stages is nearly impossible. One of the most common forms of cancer to affect 1 in every 7 men in the United States is prostate cancer. 1 in 39 men have reportedly died of prostate cancer; the reason being that the condition was diagnosed in the advanced stages.
Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland, which is situated under the bladder. The primary function of the prostate is to produce semen. The prostate gland is an integral part of the male reproductive system. The cancerous cells grow and multiply uncontrollably in the prostate gland, and this is when a man is detected with prostate cancer.
When the cancerous cells grow and spread outside the prostate gland, it is defined as an ‘advanced’ stage. Like every other kind of prostate cancer, the condition is curable if it is detected in the early stages. However, treatment of advanced prostate cancer is complex, and there are no treatments available to cure this stage of cancer.
Symptoms of advanced prostate cancer
Men will notice symptoms quite early in the development of prostate cancer. Early detection can aid in better treatment options that those who notice symptoms when the condition is advanced. Typically, the first symptom will come in the form of difficulty during urination. When the cancer enlarges in the prostate, urinating becomes extremely uncomfortable and painful. This should immediately drive one to get a medical evaluation. An individual will also feel a sense of weakness due to disruption of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Severe pain is felt in advanced prostate cancer, and there may be fracture due to the weakening of the bone by the rapid spread of cancer cells.
If the doctor thinks that an individual may have prostate cancer, he/she will carry out a number of tests. Some of the common ones include Digital Rectal Examination, blood test, bone scan and biopsy. The doctor will look at all the test results and obtain an overall picture of the disease. Detection of the prostate cancer being advanced depends upon factors like the size of the tumor, how much has it spread, and whether there are chances that the spread of the cancer cells can be controlled. After diagnosis and detection, the doctor will be able to decide on the right treatment options for this advanced stage of the disease.
Advanced prostate cancer treatment
Advanced prostate cancer is not curable, but treatment has to be administered to control further development and relieve the symptoms. The treatment will include a combination of therapies and medication that aim to reduce or stop the spread of the cancer cells and make the patient feel better. The treatments administered for prostate cancer include:
- Hormone therapy
This therapy is one of the first treatment approaches that is used in advanced prostate cancer. Testosterone, one of the main male hormones supports the growth of prostate cancer. The aim of hormone therapy is to decrease the amount of testosterone in the body. There are a number of medicines that are used in hormone therapy which include Lupron, Trelstar, Zoladex, Zytiga, Xtandi and more. Initially, castration or surgical removal of testicles was used as a treatment method. However, the action is irreversible, and the medication used in hormone therapy can bring the same results. Hormone therapy comes with side-effects such as infertility, bone loss, loss of sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
Not all patients respond to hormone therapy, and thus, chemotherapy is another treatment option for advanced prostate cancer. Earlier, chemotherapy was primarily used to relieve symptoms but has now been proven to work as an aid in the treatment of the disease. There are select chemotherapy medications that support advanced prostate cancer treatment. Medications like Taxotere and Jevtana can extend the lifespan in men. Side-effects include the loss of hair, low production of blood cells and tingling or pain in the fingers or toes.
Under immunotherapy, immunologic agents are used to stimulating the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer cells. This treatment enhances the power of the patient to stand against advanced prostate cancer. Provenge is a common method that involves the patient’s immune cells that help them grow in the laboratory. The immune cells are grown in the process of a protein that helps them recognise prostate cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy
This therapy too can be used as a treatment method for advanced prostate cancer.
Coping with the diagnosis and treatment of advanced prostate cancer is extremely stressful and can take a while before a patient can adjust. One can go through severe turmoil and anxiousness. However, the right treatment and support can help a man live a happy and long life. Also, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying calm will go a long way.