Prostate cancer surgery
Prostate cancer – surgical options
What is it and for whom?
Prostate cancer is malign tumor development in prostate which is a gland in male reproductive system. It is a disease normally associated with men over their the age of 50 and runs in the family – ageing is known to be the single largest risk factor and in Nordics the mean age of diagnosis is 70 years. Other known risk factors are smoking and obesity.
The development of the tumor is usually slow and can in most cases be tracked by specific blood tests (prostate specific antigen, PSA) as well as clinical examination at a physician’s appointment. Tumor development may come from benign prostate hypertrophy as well which means growth of a non-malignant prostate over time – there are also other precancerous conditions of the prostate as well. Specific biopsy is normally needed for diagnosis and screening. Diagnosis is normally done by urologists and pathologists who build the TNM-classification of the tumor.
Common symptoms are difficulty in urinating, blood in urine, pain when urinating. Some men might have trouble with erection as well.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers and it has a good recovery rate with over 85% over 5-year periods. However, the good recovery rate is for local cancer only. In metastatic stage the average life span is only 2 or 3 years despite having treatment. The treatment of metastatic prostate cancer is under constant development.
Read more about prostate cancer from here.
Arrival to treatment depends on the treatment path. Also, the time spent in treatment location is also dependent to the treatment path – surgery can be faster than the following cancer treatment. This is up to medical experts to decide about your treatment type.
All in all, you can expect to spend around two to four weeks in minimum in your overseas medical treatment location. If you are receiving treatment for metastatic prostate cancer the treatment time can be up to several months in total.
Treatment methods range from radical prostatectomy to radiation therapy and cytostatic medication and is fully dependent on the tumour classification and possible metastases.
You can find more information about radical prostatectomy here. It’s even more popular way to treat prostate cancer and safe with modern DaVinci robotic surgery.It is used with localized prostate cancer with patients in high risk category (high PSA values) as it has better long term recovery rate than with radiation treatment.
Localized cancer with more aggressive nature can be treated by surgery as well. In this disease some external radiation therapy is included postoperatively or to use as the major treatment with higher doses and frequency. Chemical castration or orchiectomy is another effective method to treat this cancer – however, its disadvantages is the loss of testosterone which multiple side effects from appetite to sexual performance ability.
Advanced and metastatic prostate cancer is the most difficult to treat. In this stage there are tumors normally in lungs, liver, brains or bone tissue which need their own treatment as well. Treatment usually starts with chemical or surgical treatment to lower testosterone levels which decrease tumor development. This can minimize symptoms for up to some months or years. First stage radiation therapy is used nowadays as well, which has been approved by the most modern cancer centers.
Despite the treatment the average life span is around 2 to 3 years if patient has metastatic prostate cancer.
Recovery and rehabilitation
With local cancer without metastases the recovery rate is good. Recovery rate is dependent on the treatment path. From surgery it may be faster to recover if patient is in good physical condition – thus, getting back home might be faster as well. After radiation or chemotherapy treatments recovery in treatment location can be relatively short if patient would like to return home.
It is important to arrange follow-up care and follow patient regularly no matter if he has symptoms or not. Regular appointments at a specialist is recommended along with blood and urine work. PSA works as a good cancer marker postoperatively as well. Control check-up is usually every 6 months if patient does not get any symptoms. Check-ups of patients with radical prostatectomy can be arranged solely by monitoring PSA values every 6 or 12 months if there are no other symptoms. This can be arranged for patients in USA as well by Nordic physicians.
Follow-up care of metastatic cancer needs more attention and planning. This is done on case-by-case basis by specialized urologists.
It is highly important that patient tracks his own symptoms: any new conditions with pain, urinating, impotence or mental health might be relevant.
Every treatment has its own risks and risks and complications for prostate cancer treatment depend on the type of treatment. In surgery there usually is risk for infection, pain, bleeding and swelling. Also, radical prostatectomy might cause urine incontinence and impotence.
Radiation treatment will usually cause nausea, dizziness and light-headedness. During treatment also some weakness may occur.
Despite having your prostate removed there is a small risk that some metastatic tumor tissue is left in the body. This is why postoperative screening is required.