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Prostate Cancer Archive

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The option of prostate cancer surgery

Updated February 1, 2020

Is surgery the best choice to treat your prostate cancer? Here's what you need to know.

There are many ways to deal with a prostate cancer diagnosis. You might choose the wait-and-see approach of active surveillance for low-risk disease, in which you monitor your condition and only treat if the cancer becomes more aggressive. In terms of treatments, you can opt for radiation therapy, which attacks cancer cells, or androgen deprivation therapy, which tries to slow cancer growth by shutting down testosterone production.

The remaining option is radical prostatectomy: surgery to remove the entire prostate gland. While this is the most invasive approach, it's the right choice for some men.

Prostate cancer and your sex life

Updated January 1, 2020

Undergoing treatment and managing the condition can lower libido and lead to erectile dysfunction.

Considerable emotional and mental processing comes with a prostate cancer diagnosis. "Prostate cancer strikes a personal part of a man's body, and for most, it is a glaring sign of aging and a reminder they are not as young as before," says Dr. Mark Pomerantz, an oncologist with Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Then there is the stressful decision about treatment. Yet many men don't realize how much their choice may influence their sex life.

Mushrooms may protect against prostate cancer

Updated January 1, 2020

In the journals

A study published online Sept. 4, 2019, by the International Journal of Cancer showed a possible connection between regular mushroom consumption and a lower risk of prostate cancer.

The researchers recruited more than 36,000 men ages 40 to 79. They recorded various health information, such as physical activity, family and medical history, and diet. Information on diet included 39 foods and beverages. The men were then followed for a period ranging from 13 to almost 25 years.

Biopsy of the Prostate and Transrectal Ultrasound

Updated December 6, 2019

What is the test?

Your doctor is likely to recommend this test if you've had a rectal exam or blood tests that suggest that you might have prostate cancer. For this test, a urologist takes tissue samples from several places in your prostate, to be examined for cancer. A transrectal ultrasound helps the urologist see the prostate during the procedure.

How do I prepare for the test?

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take before scheduling the procedure. If you take aspirin, another NSAID or an anticoagulant medicine such as warfarin (Coumadin), your doctor will advise if changes need to be made for the biopsy. Be sure to mention any allergies, especially to antibiotics.

Wait-and-see approaches to prostate cancer

Updated November 1, 2019

Active surveillance and watchful waiting are the most conservative — and increasingly popular — approaches to prostate cancer management. Is one of these right for you?

Over the years, the outcome for prostate cancer has turned out to be better than expected for many men.

While prostate cancer is quite common, the risk of dying from the disease is low, even without treatment. In fact, most diagnosed men will die from something else, like heart disease. Even so, prostate cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer deaths (after lung cancer) in men, according to the American Cancer Society.

Are calcium deposits in the prostate a sign of cancer?

Updated September 1, 2019

On call

Q. I've heard that calcium deposits can form in the prostate gland. What are they, and can they indicate cancer?

A. Calcium deposits can occur anywhere in the body; however, they often appear where there has been an injury, infection, or inflammation. Calcium deposits also can be seen with some types of cancer. When calcium deposits appear within the breast on a mammogram or in the lungs on a chest x-ray, their pattern helps the radiologist interpret the results. Certain patterns suggest possible cancer.

Body fat may predict aggressive prostate cancer

Updated September 1, 2019

In the journals

Excess weight not only raises your risk of prostate cancer, it can also mean more aggressive and fatal cancer, according to a study published online June 10, 2019, by Cancer.

Scientists found that the accumulation of visceral fat (the hidden kind that lies deep in the abdomen and surrounds the major organs) and subcutaneous fat in the thighs (which lies just under the skin) were both associated with a greater chance of developing advanced prostate cancer as well as dying from the disease.

Big jump in active surveillance for low-risk prostate cancer

Updated June 1, 2019

News briefs

New findings show a dramatic increase in the number of men taking a conservative approach to low-risk prostate cancer. According to a Harvard-led study published Feb. 19, 2019, in JAMA, use of active surveillance — which involves monitoring the cancer and delaying treatment unless it progresses — almost tripled from 2010 to 2015. The data come from the records of 165,000 men with prostate cancer. Researchers found that among men with low-risk prostate cancer (slow-growing cancer that's not considered life-threatening), active surveillance jumped from 15% in 2010 to 42% in 2015, surgery fell from 47% to 31%, and radiation dropped from 38% to 27%. Other studies also have also shown increasing rates of active surveillance in low-risk cases.

Why the shift? The authors point to national guidelines that now recommend active surveillance in such cases, as well as favorable research findings. "Emerging evidence has shown that active surveillance for low-risk prostate cancer is an effective alternative to surgery or radiation, associated with similar and excellent chances at long-term survival," notes Dr. Brandon Mahal, the study's lead author and a radiation oncologist with Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center.

4 tips for coping with an enlarged prostate

Updated October 13, 2020

When a man reaches about age 25, his prostate begins to grow. This natural growth is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and it is the most common cause of prostate enlargement. BPH is a benign condition that does not lead to prostate cancer, though the two problems can coexist.

Although 50% to 60% of men with BPH may never develop any symptoms, others find that BPH can make life miserable. The symptoms of BPH include:

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