Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment changes your life.
Many decisions become urgent about treatments, lifestyle, family and cost. You will need to make some challenging decisions that could affect your day-to-day life for the future. Usually, prostate cancer is diagnosed in men who do not have debilitating symptoms. This means you can make decisions without the added setback of physical pain.
Some of the decisions will relate to treatment options, something you are unlikely to know a lot about. It can initially all seem quite overwhelming because each treatment has its positives and negatives.
Like many hundreds of thousands of other men, you will need to be involved in making a personal treatment plan for yourself. Is active surveillance a safe option given the information you have available right now? Alternatively, do you need radiation, surgery, seed implantation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy or some other treatment?
Making Sense of the Diagnosis
No doubt, you have already had multiple PSA tests, a DRE, and probably one or more biopsies. You may yourself have noted changes in your ability to pass urine or in your sexual performance. Whatever the case, irregularities will have been discovered, and at some point prostate cancer was diagnosed.
Under the microscope, the way your cells look can indicate much about your prostate cancer. This will often steer decisions about treatment options. Usually, your prostate cells, just like all other cells in your body, are always reproducing and dying so that each new prostate cell that grows has the same shape and appearance as all other prostate cells.
However, cancer cells look different, and how much they look different to normal cells is what determines the cancer grade. Low-grade tumor cells tend to look very similar to normal cells, but high-grade tumor cells have mutated so much that they often barely look like normal cells.
The method to describe prostate cancers is a five grade scale (5 is the highest), and is called the Gleason Grading system. A pathologist will examine your prostate cells under a microscope and give a Gleason grade to the most common pattern and a second grade to the next most common pattern.
These two grades are added together, and a higher Gleason score indicates a more aggressive cancer and a likely worse prognosis.
Diagnosis of prostate cancer may lead to discovering if the cancer has spread beyond the prostate. Two other tests you might need are a bone scan and a CT scan to check lymph nodes.
If you are undergoing prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment, do your very best to stay positive. We are fortunate that the treatments available now are far in advance of even a few years ago. Some men have remarkable recoveries and for others their life expectancy is greatly enhanced. Do your own research; share your situation with those who can support you and read the stories of those who are facing the same decisions. If you are considering an alternative treatment regime, always communicate fully with your doctor and other specialists.