Prostate Cancer Treatment: Tracking a Ticking Time Bomb
The prostate is located under the bladder and this is the most common kind of cancer that affects only men. While its mortality rate is not as high as lung cancer, the fact is that 1 out of 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their life time. Once diagnosed, the conventional treatment programs take over the patient’s life often for many years, greatly affecting quality of life. This makes finding an alternative prostate cancer treatment more and more important.
Types of Prostate Cancer
While prostate cancer is very aggressive in some men, most men may never even know they have it. It is a very slow moving cancer with few relatively side effects. As the prostate grows and swells some of the symptoms are a frequent desire to urinate. This symptom can be easily confused with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).
Who is at risk? This cancer usually develops in men over 50 years of age.
Here are some prostate cancer facts:
- It typically affects men greater than 50 years old, with an average age of 70.
- Genetics plays a small part with about 20% of prostate cancer patients having a family history – rest are sporadic. Given the prevalence, it is highly likely that there is someone in the family who has suffered from prostate cancer without the transmission being genetic.
- Drinking a lot of alcohol increases the chances of developing prostate cancer.
- Men that eat diets high in fatty foods are at a increased risk.
- Pan-fried meat can increase prostate cancer risk by up to 40%.
- Race plays a part in prostate cancer as approximately 40% black men are more likely to get prostate cancer compared to an average of other races, with a correspondingly high mortality rate as well.
- High levels of testosterone and obesity have been linked to a greater chance of prostate cancer.
Most men will not have any symptoms of the disease in the early stages. However, as the cancer develops, frequent trips to the bathroom coupled with inability to urinate can begin to develop. Prostate cancer can also affect sexual life by making it difficult for men to have or sustain an erection. It is common for the cancer to metastasize to the bone, causing bone pain and fractures. Given the common nature of these symptoms with many other conditions, it makes it very difficult to really pinpoint that someone has prostate cancer until it is in a more advanced state.
The PSA Test
Most men are diagnosed when getting a rectal examination. If it is suspected that a patient may have prostate cancer there is a blood test that can reveal a prostate cancer antigen called the PSA (prostate specific antigen). This test was introduced in the early 1990s and caused many patients to get diagnosed with prostate cancer at much earlier stages than was possible before.
However, the PSA values have also come under some scrutiny for not being very reliable predictors or the disease and its progression.
The Gleason Grading System
Many patients get a biopsy done to make the final determination. There is currently no way of telling if the cancer will be aggressive or not which makes it hard to determine the course of treatment. However, the Gleason Grading System has been used since 1966 to provide direction. Here is how it works:
The pathologist receives needle biopsy samples from various areas of the prostate. He picks the two worst areas and gives them a score of 0-5, where 0 means that the tissue resembles prostate cells completely, and 5 means that the prostate cells are poorly differentiated and interspersed with tissue (see figure on left). Next, he adds those two scores. For example a score of 7 could mean 4+3 or 5+2. The reason for taking two areas is an attempt to average out the effective spread of the cancer, that could indicate how aggressive the cancer may actually be.
In recent times, for patients who have conducted a biopsy, doctors like to look at a combination of the Gleason score along with the PSA value taken over increments of time to get a better idea of how the disease is progressing.
“Needle Tracking”: Dangers of Prostate Biopsies
We will cover this topic in greater detail in a later article, but biopsies can cause a number of problems, the most important one being the spread of cancer. The phenomenon of “needle tracking” has been studied, and it is clear that the path that the needle takes on its way out from the biopsy site can cause a spread of cancer, that seems to explain why prostate cancer mysteriously recurs in patients whose prostate had been previously removed for a seemingly localized cancer.
Alternative Diagnostic and Prostate Cancer Treatment Options
At Hope4Cancer Treatment Centers in Mexico, we recommend our patients to avoid biopsies, and instead follow the disease by using MRIs and Color Doppler Ultrasound methods. It is always safe to assume that some of the cancer may have metastasized, so we focus on treating the whole body using Dr. Jimenez’s Seven Key Principles of Cancer Therapy.