Prostate cancer affects thousands of men each year and is continually changing into different strains. Outlined are some of the common procedures utilized in treating a patient that has been positively diagnosed with prostate cancer. Once diagnosed and various consultations have taken place, options are left available for the patient to review and with the benefit of the Urologist at hand, will select the best course of treatment, given what stage the cancer is in.
A Prostatectomy is the physical removal of the prostate gland and nearby tissues that could have caused the cancer to spread to other areas. Common methods of Prostatectomy are the 'Radical retro pubic prostatectomy' and the 'radical perinea prostatectomy’. The Radical retro pubic prostatectomy involved surgery and the entire prostate, surrounding tissues and part of the reproductive vessels are removed in this procedure, in hope, to have prevented the cancer spreading. In certain cases during this procedure, if the cancer identified is quite small, a variation procedure is carried out, called the 'nerve-sparing radical retro pubic prostatectomy' which involved nerve endings being 'isolated' after the gland and surrounding tissues are removed. However, recently due to extensive research, trials have taken place to actually do a nerve transplant, where a nerve is taken from, say the leg, and transplanted back into the affected area to preserve the ability to have, and maintain erections during sexual arousal. This has been performed usually when the 'nerve sparing technique' could not be performed.
The difference with the radical perinea prostatectomy is that the surgeon operates underneath the testicles, between the perineum and anus and physically removes the prostate gland, nearby surrounding tissues and the cancer. But, what can you expect after such major surgery? Well, the radical prostatectomy procedure can last anything up to 4 hours and is considered the longer of the two surgeries, where after surgery a catheter (a small tube) is inserted into the urethra of the penis and allows the patient to urinate after surgery, this will remain in place for a few weeks after the surgery to allow the healing process to complete. After this is complete, the catheter is removed and the individual should be able to urinate naturally. However, after either surgery, you are required to be monitored in hospital for a few days and will need to have at least 5 weeks rest and recuperation at home.
Once the prostate is removed, it is sent for analysis and the specialists can determine what type of cancer was there and if indeed it had the possibility of spreading or was confined to the prostate gland. This is called localized prostate cancer, but as with any cancer, if there was a chance of the cancer spreading, further consultations, examinations and treatments, including radiotherapy might need consideration. One advantage of this procedure is that once the prostate is removed, it is a onetime procedure and can 'catch' the cancer in its early stages, preventing any further spreads. However, on the down side as we discussed, the individual can suffer from impotence, urinary incontinence, bowel complications and sometimes narrowing of the urethra that can make urination difficult.
Other methods of treating prostate cancer are (TURP) which stands for 'transurethral resection of the prostate' and is used in men that can't have the other methods described due to illness or age, Moreover new technology has allowed us to open the doors to new experimental treatments, such as laparoscopic and robotic prostatectomy, but these are still very much in the development stage and will be some time before they are readily available as active treatments.