First of all, a diagnosis is not the end of the world. Although the dreaded “C-word” diagnosis can be shocking, it’s important not to panic; your mindset will be the key to both a good prognosis and successful recovery. Millions of men have beaten prostate cancer and many millions more will, as well. Let’s make sure you know all your options and choose the best treatment plan.
Typically, prostate tumors grow slowly. Detection, especially early, all but ensures a full recovery and continuation of your normal life with a chance of cure. Even so, you might wonder what steps to take once you hear this unwelcome news, a refrain that the board-certified urologists at the Prostate Cancer Institute of Los Angeles hear often.
Here’s what we suggest.
A Second (or Third) Opinion
Your life may be on the line or, at the very least, your quality of life will be, based on the decisions you will make about your diagnosis. Don’t be shy — seek as many professional opinions as makes you comfortable. Make sure no misdiagnosis has been made that could lead to your being over-treated or under-treated. Educate yourself so you can choose wisely.
Find the Right Doctor
Find a doctor who is experienced, well-trained, board-certified, and has a successful track record of treating your condition. If you talk to a doctor who only does surgery or HIFU, it may be in your best interest to counsel with others who are skilled and trained in other methods of prostate cancer treatment as well, such as radiation therapy.
Furthermore, find a doctor with whom you’re comfortable. Often, patients overlook this but consider: you’re going through an emotional time and your doctor will be with you through the entire process. You should have someone you’re comfortable with — almost like a friend — who can guide you and give you objective expert advice and tailored insight every step of the way.
Prostate cancer grade (Gleason score) is one of the most important prognostic factors. Your prostate biopsy sample will be inspected and graded on a scale of 2 to 10 by the pathologist:
- A score of 5 or less is a less aggressive tumor (mostly not even reported by pathologist)
- A 6 considered low risk (other factors also play into this)
- A score of 7 is considered intermediate
- Gleason scores 8 to 10 aggressive tumor with the highest levels of risk
Your Gleason Score will be a key factor in choosing the treatment.
Confirm the Location (Staging)
Where is the tumor? Is it localized? Or has it spread throughout the gland? Or, worse, has it metastasized outside the gland?
X-rays, CT scans, and bone scans can help determine the extent of cancer, another key component in deciding your treatment plan.
Learn more about cancer staging at WebMD.com.
Once you have ascertained tumor size, the level of aggression, and the degree of metastasis, you and your doctor are better able to choose the best prostate cancer treatment. A low Gleason score or a small tumor, for example, might mean you wait, especially for older men, while a higher Gleason score or high aggression necessitates a proactive treatment.
Your overall health is also taken into account before deciding on one of the following options available in Los Angeles:
Whole Gland Treatment
This is common for prostate tumors that are either localized or have spread. Options for treating the whole gland include:
- Open surgery
- Robotic prostatectomy
- Radiation treatment
- IMRT (external beam radiation treatment every day for eight and half weeks)
- Brachytherapy (internal radiation treatment in which “pods” are planted in the prostate to release radiation targeting the tumor at regular intervals)
- Cryotherapy — this freezes the prostate until the cancer cells are destroyed
Each whole gland cancer treatment is effective in varying degrees, yet each also has a risk of side effects and complications such as ED (erectile dysfunction) and urinary dysfunction (incontinence, urinary frequency, obstructions, etc.).
When cancer is localized or small enough, removal or treatment of the whole gland is not usually necessary. Accordingly, several other types of treatment are viable options.
- Active surveillance — In lieu of treatment, the least aggressive tumors are actively monitored via regular exams (e.g., digital rectal exams or PSA testing, also repeat biopsies).
- HIFU (high intensity focused ultrasound) — A revolutionary prostate cancer treatment that uses the safe ultrasound technology to target the cancerous portion of the gland and heat it up via until it is destroyed.
- HIFU is precise and it doesn’t affect nearby or adjacent tissues.
- MRI-Fusion TrueBeam IMRT — MRI mapping is combined with IMRT to deliver more precise radiation for better preservation of healthy tissue
- MRI-Fusion Brachytherapy — MRI mapping with brachytherapy is good for less aggressive tumors
- MRI-Fusion HIFU — MRI mapping combined with HIFU for precise treatment that preserves the remaining tissue
Don’t Be Shy — Get Support
Prostate cancer can impact you socially, professionally, financially, and sexually. You may not like asking for help, but don’t isolate yourself by trying to deal with the stress or condition alone. This can lead to loneliness and reduce your quality of life.
Family, friends or someone you know who also has prostate cancer are good sources of inspiration. A prostate cancer support group is also a good way to realize you’re not alone and to have people around who simply listen.
Continue Living a Healthy Lifestyle
Even if it’s a simple 20-minute walk 3–4 times a week, this can help you deal with your cancer by reducing your stress. Plus, research has found that exercise helps lower the risk of a faster progression rate.
Make sure to eat well, also. Low-fat foods, fruits, veggies, fiber, nuts are believed to have a positive impact on cancer growth (i.e., it might slow it down).
Contact the Prostate Cancer Institute of Los Angeles for More Information
Prostate cancer is beatable, and we have a variety of prostate cancer treatment options at our disposal to help you beat it. To schedule a consultation, contact us online or call our Beverly Hills office at 310.341–2557.
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