"Health Beat"

Prostate Cancer

by Kelley Harrison

This year in the United States statistics show that approximately 180,000 men will be informed that they have prostate cancer. Following this diagnosis, a man and his family face several choices regarding treatment. Treatment decisions involve many factors, personal as well as medical. Before making these decisions, it is very important that the patient become informed of all available treatment options. Armed with this knowledge, a newly diagnosed prostate cancer patient can participate more confidently with his doctor in planning his individual treatment. By age 50, studies indicate that approximately 1/3 of American men have microscopic signs of prostate cancer. By age 75, ½ to ¾ of all men will have some cancerous changes in their prostate glands. Most of these cancers remain latent, producing no signs of symptoms and are indolent (growth is slow) so that they never become a serious threat to health. Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin malignancy in men and follows lung cancer by being the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men.

Treatment options and prognosis depend on the stage of the cancer, the patient’s age and general health. With greater public awareness, early detection is on the rise and mortality rates are declining. Additionally, new advances in medical technology are enabling cancer patients to go on to live active lifestyles.

I would like to discuss three of the most frequently used and successful medical interventions for Prostate Cancer patients. The first is a new, less invasive approach to prostate removal called the da Vinci® Prostatectomy. This method incorporates the latest advancements in robotic-assisted technology and allows a surgeon greater visualization, enhanced dexterity, precision, control and superior ergonomics. For qualified candidates, the da Vinci® Prostatectomy offers numerous potential benefits over the traditional open prostatectomy, including:

  • Shorter hospital stay

  • Less pain

  • Less risk of infection

  • Less blood loss and transfusions

  • Less scary for the patient

  • Faster recovery

  • Quicker return to normal activities

Dr. James Jensen specializes in general urology and with an emphasis on prostate cancer and has been practicing in Salt Lake City for 11 years. He specializes in minimally invasive treatments for patients with urological cancers via the utilization of robotic and laparoscopic surgery. He has performed several hundred prostatectomies including traditional or standard retropubic, perineal and robotic assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (daVinci Prostatectomy).  For more information on Dr. James Jensen and the da Vinci Prostatectomy, visit www.davinci-surgeon.com.

Getting started on the pathway to a more informed decision is easy. The Urological Surgery Health Center can be reached at 1-866-475-1054 where a friendly customer service representative will provide you with resources and give you information about our program. We will also send you an informational pamphlet and video/DVD.

The second and most popular treatment for discussion is a newer treatment that has become famous at Utah’s Salt Lake Regional Medical Center due to its success rate and minimal side effects. This procedure, Brachytherapy has attracted prostate cancer patients from all over the country with extremely positive results reported.  Gamma West Brachytherapy is the first Brachytherapy clinic in the Intermountain West, in Utah and among the first of its kind in the nation. Today, High Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR) and Low Dose Rate Brachytherapy (LDR) are time tested and safe methods in the treatment of prostate cancer. Brachytherapy allows the physician to treat prostate cancer with greater precision and less trauma for the patient.

Brachytherapy is recognized also as a viable treatment option for other forms of cancer to include prostate, gynecologic, head and neck, sarcomas and miscellaneous tumors that can be implanted with CT guidance. This procedure gives physicians the significant advantage of applying a higher dose of radiation directly to the tumor itself while sparing healthy tissue and surrounding organs. As a result, Brachytherapy treatment has very few side affects. While Brachytherapy is used to treat many different types of cancer, it is more commonly used in the treatment of prostate cancer. More men with prostate cancer are choosing Brachytherapy for the following reasons:

  • It is less expensive than invasive surgery

  • Fewer side effects are experienced than with other procedures

  • Recovery time is very short

  • Quality of life has a higher probability of being preserved than other treatments for prostate cancer with reductions in impotence and incontinence reported

For more information about Brachytherapy, visit www.gammawest.com.

The third and final procedure is an operation called a radical prostatectomy. This surgery is the most invasive as it results in total removal of the prostate glad as well as surrounding tissue. A radical prostatectomy is further described in terms of the incisions used by the surgeon to reach the gland. In a retropubic prostatectomy, the prostate is reached through an incision in the lower abdomen; in a perineal prostatectomy, the approach is through the perineum, the space between the scrotum and the anus. In radical prostatectomy, the surgeon excises the entire prostate gland with the surrounding tissues. The section of urethra that runs through the prostate is dissected along with a portion of the sphincter muscle that controls the flow of urine.  Patients who have this operation typically require a lengthier hospital stay and will have more side effects than with the other two medical procedures described above. Unfortunately the radical prostatectomy may be the only medical option if the cancer is quite advanced: however, these patients typically recover quite well.

 

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