Detecting Prostate Cancer

The prostate gland is the size of a walnut and can be defined as a male sex gland. Since the prostate is located directly in front of the rectum, and just below the bladder a doctor can determine the size/condition of the gland by inserting a gloved finger into the rectum.

Ways to detect

In 1985, FDA gave their formal approval of the first test for monitoring blood levels for a substance called prostate specific antigen (PSA), the higher levels of which indicate prostrate cancer.

It is the best marker for prostate cancer as it is basically restricted to prostate cells.
In 1998, the next test to be approved was the Tandem R test, which measures another component called “free PSA,” and apart from total PSA.

Although PSA or digital tests indicate a strong possibility of the presence of cancer, doctors generally prescribe a transrectal ultrasound (TRUS), a probe using insertions into the rectum using sound waves to “map” the prostate.
Biopsies are the best way to detect if prostate cancer is present.

If cancer is found after a biopsy, the doctor “stages” the tumor – determining which biopsy specimens contain cancer, the degree of cancer, and the position of cancer in the specimens.

The Gleason score, judges the probable ferociousness of the tumor based on the cellular differences of the cancer.
In recent times, some doctors have also begun using Partin Tables, a scoring method perfected at Johns Hopkins University that uses PSA, Gleason number, and staging to calculate if the disease is limited or has spread to other areas.

Treating the Disease

Having collated all the diagnostic data, patients and their doctors must decide on the course of treatment. The decisions concerning treatment are critical they will have long term consequences, so it is wise to weigh all the options carefully.

The most unconventional treatment is to have no treatment at all. It is also known as watchful waiting, and it is most appropriate for men with a 10-year life expectancy or less or who for those having a low Gleason number and whose tumor is not widespread. The notion here is that these men are unlikely to die of the cancer as it is spreading so slowly.

Radical prostatectomy (RP) is another form of treatment in which the prostate is removed totally with the help of surgery. If this removal is performed when the cancer is restricted to the prostrate gland, RP is equivalent to a cure since in theory it removes all traces of the cancer.

Radiation treatment is an option that may be less harrowing than RP and appears to have results akin to RP when used in early-stage patients. The minus points are its side effects, including impotence, in about half of patients.

Cryotherapy is a kind of treatment in which the prostate tumors are killed by freezing, thus showing quick encouraging results. Some medical professionals argue about the lack of sufficient long term data to determine its effectiveness.

Movember Madness – Cancers Prevalent in Men and How to Fight Them

It is actually sad, but there are not many men who are actually aware of diseases that are making a serious dent in the male population of the world. While the media and social workers are paying attention to the female population (let’s be honest, we outnumber men in many ways), men are somewhat ignored in this regard. Perhaps it has more to with the “macho man” and “real men are tough” mentality, but this mindset has increased the male mortality rate.

So, let’s go ahead and shed light on some of the most prevalent men’s health issues and diseases.

About Cancer

What are the leading Cancers in the male population? They are:

Prostate Cancer
Lungs Cancer
Colorectal cancer
Liver cancer

Among all of them, Prostate and Lung cancer are the most dangerous and most common. The sad thing is that most men are ignoring the first outbursts of cancer symptoms because they do not have the time or the money to see a doctor. The best way to kill the disease before it kills you is by catching it earliest as possible. But how do you know if your symptoms are cancer symptoms? Of course, you need to keep your eye on the usual cancer symptoms like drowsiness, fatigue, unusual weight loss and a cough that won’t go away. However, there are other symptoms that must be reported to your doctor on the first sighting. These are strictly related to Male Cancers, so don’t be shy or lazy.

Symptoms of Cancer That Must Be Reported!

Here are some symptoms that must be taken seriously and reported to your doctor immediately.

Pee Problems

This is first of many signs that links to prostate cancer. Many men have issues with their peeing habits when they grow older. However, even young men can develop that. If you get up to pee at night, if you pee more than usual (for a long time), have the constant, urgent need to pee, leaking and dripping issues or you have trouble in getting the waterworks started, you need to inform your doctor.

The Size Changes

Any changes in the size of your testicles must be reported. If you feel an unusual heaviness and lumps, you need to get a medical exam. Testicular cancer is much more progressive and more aggressive than prostate cancer. It can spread and become untreatable in a matter of months.

Sudden Blood Discharge

If you have a blood tinged discharge or bloody stool or bloody urine, you need to take action right away. Colon, kidney and bladder cancers can be diagnosed this way.

Breast Changes

Yes, men have breasts too. You have pectorals, don’t you? Most of the time, men ignore this fact and believe that they are immune to breast cancer. However, if you have raised nodes in your armpit areas and around your nipple, do not ignore it. You need to be checked immediately because many men get beyond the treatment stage because their breast cancer is diagnosed too late.

Prevention

The whole point of Movember is to spread awareness. However, many countries are not even aware of Movember and major men’s diseases. The only way to spread this awareness is by reaching out to the far off countries that do not have the right resources. This can be done in a very simple manner. If you are a medical personnel or you have access to a hospital, simply ask them to create men’s health brochures and leaflets, have them translated into different languages and spread them around. Countries like USA and UK have a dense population of people who are immigrants and many of them do not speak or understand the English language. So having a translated version of these pamphlets will be helpful.

Also, this could also help the refugees pouring into Greece and major European countries. With so many people coming through the sea, they are bound to attract viruses and bacteria that turn into some major health issues. There are many translation services that have translators who specialize in medical translation. They will be able to convey your message clearly and accurately in their own language.

Healthy Penis Revitalization: What to Do After Prostate Cancer

Next to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, with more than 2,000,000 Americans in the ranks of prostate cancer survivors. Often, men who have gone through treatment for this common disease find that regaining a healthy penis can be a challenge. In such cases, maintaining optimal penis care is especially important. To help revitalize the penis after this health problem, men need to be prepared to take the necessary steps.

About the disease

The prostate is a gland that only men possess and which is found between the rectum and the bladder. It’s an important component in the manufacture of the fluid in semen.

When cancer develops in the prostate, it can cause discomfort and lead to serious issues; however, in some cases it is very slow to grow and many men may have prostate cancer for years without being aware of it.

There are many symptoms that may be associated with this condition, including a weak urine stream, frequent urination (especially at night), blood in the urine, erectile issues and loss of bladder control.

Treatment depends upon the stage of the disease but in some instances may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or vaccine therapy.

Post-treatment

Depending upon the severity of the cancer and the treatment used, a man may experience significant issues post-treatment, especially when surgery is involved. Although advances in surgery have diminished the impact on sexual performance, many men will still experience some degree of erectile dysfunction after many forms of treatment.

Most doctors recommend that men undergo some form of therapy to help regain the use of a healthy penis after prostate cancer. In some cases, it is necessary to induce erections in situations in which there has been erectile loss, especially if that loss is projected to sustain for an extended period of time.

Induction may be needed

The reason for inducing is to keep the penis in shape so that it can “re-learn” how to become erect. “Use it or lose it” is especially true with the penis, and if the organ goes for too long a time without an erection, the vessels and tissues become deoxygenated relative to when in an erect state. This creates a vicious cycle in which the tissue becomes less and less capable on its own of trapping the blood that is needed to build and maintain an erection.

Typical therapy comes in one or more of three forms: oral, injection and vacuum.

Oral therapy involves taking a medication by mouth which helps to promote erectile activity. Many doctors recommend this therapy be started before treatment for the cancer and continue afterward for a month or more.

Injection therapy requires the injection of drugs which help the penile blood vessels to expand.

Vacuum therapy is performed via a penis pump, which creates a “vacuum” around the organ that encourages the flow and trapping of blood in the member.

For any form of treatment to regain function after treatment for prostate cancer, it helps if a man goes into the situation with a healthy penis to begin with. One way to achieve this is via daily use of a quality penis health creme (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil). Especially important in this instance is that the crème contains among its ingredients L-arginine. This enzyme helps to create nitric oxide, a substance which in turn is essential for the healthy functioning of blood vessels and the continued oxygenation of tissues in the member. It also is wise to select a crème that includes vitamin C. One of the most popular nutrients, vitamin C is noted for the role it plays in collagen production and penile skin firmness. A well-balanced crème like Man1 Man Oil provides a wealth of nutrients vital to continued penis health.

Surviving Prostate Cancer

I’ve been writing and rewriting my thoughts about ‘memory’ after I came across a song called “I Remember You” by Frank Ifield, recorded in the early 1960’s. I hit the (writing) wall… until today.

I recently posted to Facebook, a note that I have been Cancer FREE for five years. The responses to that post have had my mind spinning like a dreidel all day.

My thoughts have run through memories of losing two of my brothers to cancer, Robert Lynn Coons in 1994, at age 47 and Michael Edward Coons in 2012, at age 56, as well as uncles, aunts, cousins and other friends. In the case of my brothers, their cancers were widely spread by the time they were diagnosed. We don’t know if it included Prostate Cancer. It even hurts to see that in print. Virtually everyone I know and certainly most of those people who clicked on “Like” or commented on that post, have family members, close and distant and friends, whom they’ve also lost to cancer. Seeing that I have survived* it, had to hurt those whose family members and friends did not. I never take that survival for granted. Not ever.* Whatever caused cancer to invade my body could cause it again, only not in the same way. I’m more aware now, but as George Carlin might say, ‘Just because the monkey is off you back, doesn’t mean the circus has left town’.

I ask you; plead with you to be more aware than I was. The diagnosis of existing Prostate Cancer came to me through one of those serendipitous events which grew from what I thought was a different physical problem. I had annual physicals and realized after the fact that my PSA had been climbing over the three previous years. I had seen it but did not process the information.

On the morning of January 2, 2010 Louisa, Seven and I were walking in Washington Park. It was very cold and there was snow on the ground, much like today; nothing unusual about that. Louisa stopped to talk about dogs with a gentleman who was also walking his dog. At some point I realized that I was unsteady. I felt that, if I tried to move I would fall. When they finishing visiting, Louisa started to walk and stopped, asking me what was wrong. I said that I didn’t think I could move without falling. She walked me to a bench and sat with me. She said I had no signs typically associated with a stroke. After a few minutes, perhaps five, I got up and walked some with her. I felt alright, but was shaken enough to schedule an appointment with a doctor. The visit and the subsequent journey, started on January 5, 2010.

Dr. Katherin Compton examined me, took a blood draw and suggested that I visit a neurologist, which I did. She also said that I should visit with a urologist, since my PSA was high, at 9 at the time. For the next four weeks I underwent brain scans, MRI, MRE, eeg, ekg and I don’t recall what else without looking at records. The neurologist confirmed that I had not had a TIA, but most likely experienced low blood sugar at the event in the park.

I did visit the urologist, Dr. Reuven Rosen who suggested a biopsy based on the pattern of the rising PSA. The biopsy showed Prostate Cancer; caught at an early stage. After considering various options of treatment, including natural and chemo, and due to the history of cancer in my family, I chose to have the robotic surgery to remove it. I have and do give thanks to God for his guidance, putting me in care and the skills of Dr. Jeremy Weiss, his staff, nurse, doctors and technicians. I say I am cancer free because, since that surgery on January 4, 2011, my PSA continues to be “undetectable”, which really means ‘not enough to measure’.

My friend, the late Charles Burrell* introduced me to the Hamilton Rademacher Men Cancer Community (HRMCC), two weeks after my surgery. I continue to participate in the support group and encourage you to contact me personally, through Facebook Private Messenger or by phone, if you know of any man whom you think could benefit from our discussions. Men usually don’t want to participate or discuss prostate cancer or talk about any illness. The HRMCC provides an atmosphere where men really do that. Really. *Not to be confused with the well-known Denver musician of the same name.

Prostate Cancer continues to be researched and is supported by groups locally, such as the Prostate Conditions Education Council (PCEC) and through events such as Mac’s Run for PCEC and the Denver Blue Shoe 5k, hosted by The Urology Clinic of Colorado (TUCC). I’ve run in each of those races, wearing a BIB that has a number and the word SURVIVOR on it. I am a five-year survivor of Prostate Cancer. I am careful about what I eat and drink and remain watchful of any changes that might signal a change in that state.

There aren’t many ‘givens’ about Prostate Cancer. Because of the prostate, it’s a male illness, sometimes found as early as ages 40 plus and more often 50 plus. For reasons unknown to date, if is found more often in African American men. I asked a guest speaker at a meeting of the HRMCC, a retired urologist why that is. He said, ‘we just don’t know.’ It’s an important part of the research, but as yet, with no conclusive results.

Goodbye Prostate!

August 2014 and I’m meeting with my primary doctor for a followup on my yearly physical. I’m feeling pretty confident because despite being 68 years old I’ve always maintain my weight, exercised, eat right and take my vitamins. I’ve never smoked, well at least not since I got out of the Navy some 44 years ago and I only occasional drink.

No worries I told my wife as I walked out the door. But thirty minutes later my world turned upside down. I knew from last year’s exam that my PSA level (Prostate Specific Antigen, which is a protein produced by the prostate and which elevated levels could indicate prostate cancer.) was slightly elevated. But having read that there are a number of reasons besides cancer for an elevated PSA and that many times the test can be giving a false reading I wasn’t worried.

Now however my PSA had almost doubled! I could feel my heart rate jump and my palms start sweating. The doctor recommended a Urologist and strongly suggested that I make an appointment ASAP! He also said that the Urologist would perform the dreaded prostate biopsy.

So two weeks later I’m in the Urologist’s office. We just finished with an examination of my privates. He had joked earlier about getting to know me real well and if this exam was any indication I think we might get engaged!

We scheduled the biopsy. I had asked about watchful waiting (More on this in another article.) But he said with my rapid increase in PSA level this wasn’t an option. I had talked to a few friends who had under gone a biopsy and had heard all the horror stories about the pain and embarrassment, so I wasn’t looking forward to it.

The prostate biopsy consists of the doctor insert a device up your rectum and then firing twelve needles into your prostate to extract tissue samples. When I say fired that’s exactly want happens! These needles are spring loaded. The doctor counts 1, 2, 3 and bang a needle penetrates through the wall of the rectum and into the prostate. Despite being uncomfortable and embarrassing, it wasn’t painful.