The prostate is a gland found only in males. Its role is to make some of the fluid that protects and nourishes sperm cells in semen, making the semen more liquid. Just behind the prostate are glands called seminal vesicles that make most of the fluid for semen. The urethra, which is the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body through the penis, goes through the center of the prostate. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a substance made by the prostate gland. Although PSA is mostly found in semen, a small amount is also found in the blood.
Almost all prostate cancers develop from the gland cells. Prostate cancer can often be found early by testing the amount of PSA in a man’s blood. Another way prostate cancer is found early is when the doctor does a digital rectal exam. If prostate cancer is found as a result of either one of these tests, it has probably been found at an early, more treatable stage.
Treatment of prostate cancer takes many factors into consideration. They include the age of the man and his life expectancy, how advanced the cancer is, whether or not there are other health issues, and the side effects that may accompany treatment. Whether or not to pursue treatment for prostate cancer is a personal decision that a man should discuss with his physician. In some cases watchful waiting may be the best course to take. Treatments for prostate cancer include:
AnMed Health is one of the first hospitals using SpaceOAR®, a hydrogel that protects organs near the prostate from radiation aimed at a prostate tumor. Hydrogel creates a space between the prostate and the rectum (the organ at risk – OAR) to reduce potential side effects.
Until recently, the treatment of prostate cancer included a small risk of potential collateral damage; the rectum is very close to the prostate and is therefore very close to the firing line during radiation treatments. The hydrogel creates a space of about a centimeter between the prostate and the rectum, and acts as a barrier during treatments. The procedure takes less than 30 minutes, and patients report no discomfort with the hydrogel. After about 90 days, the hydrogel begins to break down and the body is completely rid of it in about six months.