It is estimated that over 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. It is the most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer in America. Fortunately, there are many effective options for treatment for prostate cancer available that help extend prostate cancer life expectancy. In fact, if treatment for prostate cancer is started early enough, it is possible to cure the cancer.
One of the most common options for treatment for prostate cancer in early stages is radical prostatectomy, the surgical removal of the prostate. There are different types of radical prostatectomy procedures, all of which aim to remove the cancer in the prostate, as well any localized tissues it may have affected. The two most common types of radical prostatectomy are radical retropubic prostatectomy and radical perineal prostatectomy.
In a radical retropubic prostatectomy, an incision is made in the lower abdomen, through which the prostate gland, attached seminal vesicles and nearby tissues can be removed. Sometimes a lymphadenectomy is also performed to remove nearby lymph nodes. Newer techniques for radical retropubic prostatectomy aim to spare the nerves on either side of the prostate, which can help lower the risk of adverse side effects, particularly impotence. Radical perineal prostatectomy is similar to radical retropubic prostatectomy, except the incision is made in the area between the scrotum and the anus (the perineum). Through this incision the prostate and any nearby cancerous areas can be removed.
The advantages to radical prostatectomy are that it's a one-time treatment for prostate cancer that can, at best, often cure the cancer in early stages and at the least, can help extend prostate cancer life expectancy. The disadvantages are the negative side effects, which may include impotence, incontinence and difficult urination due to urethral narrowing. As noted, however, newer nerve-sparing techniques can lower the risk of impotence. Overall, patients with early stage prostate cancer have 76% to 98% five-year survival rates.
Another up-and-coming treatment for prostate cancer is cryosurgery, also known as cryoablation. Cryosurgery has been used for many years in the treatment of skin cancers, and has recently been extended to other cancers such as prostate and pancreatic cancer. Cryoablation involves the controlled freezing of the prostate gland in an effort to destroy the cancerous cells. The surround connective tissue and the capillaries that feed the cancerous cells are also destroyed, which is believed to play a role in slowing the growth of any remaining cancer. The prostate cancer life expectancy for five years following cryoablation is estimated between 60% and 92%.
The advantages of cryoablation are that it is minimally invasive, offers a short recuperation time, and can be repeated if necessary. The disadvantages include the risk of developing a urinary-rectal fistula, which allows urine to flow into the rectum and bacteria from the rectum into the bladder: both potentially critical situations. Also, impotence or other erectile dysfunction is commonly reported.
Whether you end up choosing traditional radical prostatectomy, cryosurgery or another treatment for prostate cancer, you should discuss all of the advantages and disadvantages with your doctor. You should also research the prostate cancer life expectancy rates to make sure you are really getting the best odds.