There must be few Americans that have not even heard of the saw palmetto and how it is full of health benefits for those who use it in various forms. The botanical name of the species is serenoa repens, known well for its application in alternative medicine. The herb is basically just a small palm with a sprawling trunk that grows in clumps or dense thickets in sandy coastal lands.
Studies have found that the fruits of the saw palmetto are highly enriched with fatty acids and phytosterols, leading to these extracts being the subjects of intensive research for the treatment of various urinary tract infections and other medical conditions.
Early studies found that the saw palmetto in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) yielded encouraging results, suggesting that there was good tolerability and “mild to moderate improvement in urinary symptoms and flow measures“.
Today it has been determined by further research that this extract from the berry of the parsley may also have anti-cancer properties. This latest was announced by researchers at a meeting of The American Society (ACS) for Cell Biology.
Another group of researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts stated that they “wanted to know if the saw palmetto had any effect on prostate cancer cells” because already it was that the berry extract had some effect on the prostate. To that end they analyzed the effects of saw palmetto berry extract on cancer cells and found encouraging results.
The saw palmetto berry extract decreases cell growth of the prostate cancer tumors in a good number of the test subjects, and in other instances slowed the growth of generic cancer cells. Understandably researchers have seen this kind of thing before, so that they are a lot more careful about getting excited. Instead they choose to look closer at what they are dealing with so that more definitive results can be derived.
According to findings, the primary therapeutic action of the herb is to interfere with the forming of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) by compromising 5-alpha and 3-alpha reductase actions in the body, and also to block the action of DHT to receptors on prostate cells using 3-ketosteroid reductase. Based on the same research, it has now been determined that there are anti-inflammatory and antiestrogenic effects that can be gotten from the use of saw palmetto in therapy.
The purified extract of saw palmetto contains about 95% fatty acids and sterols, but what is available in the market may be different than that. However, since the saw palmetto is now known to have these beneficial effects on prostate cancer, it might help if one could maintain only small bits of it all through life as a preventive measure.
Being diagnosed with a condition like prostate cancer is certainly one of the most life impacting experiences in a man’s life, but it does not have to be the end nor the bane of it. Upon receiving the diagnosis, it is important for the man to be able to stay focused enough to project into the future and decide on what might be the best course of treatment for his situation.
Early stage prostate cancer may still be cured by a variety of interventions which may be combined or administered monotherapeutically. The catch is that they have side effects which might impact the life of the patient after the treatment and cure have been effected. It is therefore important to choose wisely because the man will definitely live with the consequences of those choices after the treatment has been completed.
Prostate cancer surgery, or radical prostatectomy, is perhaps one of the best cures for early stage prostate cancer, and perhaps has some of the most debilitating sides effects that there are. The patient will certainly suffer from incontinence for a while after the treatment, which is likely to fade off afterward, but the impotence that results from the procedure may not likely depart so quickly.
Most men assert that they have to remain on pills for the rest of their lives post treatment by surgery, others say it’s the VED pumps, and some get prescriptions from doctors for penile injections to regain a semblance of potency.
It is similar with most other prostate cancer treatments, but there is the additional radiation proctitis to deal with in the instance of radiation treatment, either by EBRT – external beam radiation therapy – or brachytherapy. The proctitis causes mild rectal bleeding and diarrhea, which eventually fade some weeks after the completion of the radiotherapy, but which are very uncomfortable while they last. The fecal and urinary incontinence issues are however more severe when it come to radiation therapy.
Hormonal therapy also has its side effects that the patient may have to live with for years after the conclusion to treatment. Orchiectomy, a low-risk surgery, has a psychological impact that may be significant for some patients; while the loss of testosterone can cause hot flashes, weight gain, loss of libido, enlargement of the breasts (gynecomastia), impotence and osteoporosis. And using GnRH agonists may eventually worse symptoms like increased bone pain, increased the risk for cardiovascular disease, and blood clots.
The use of antiandrogens generally don’t result in impotence and is gentler on the bones and muscle mass, but they may predispose liver damage with prolonged use; and some even cause skin rashes.
At one time in what looks like a distant past a prostate cancer diagnosis was tantamount to a death sentence because the disease was not often discovered until it has had the chance to advance into the later stages. Even in these modern times, a delayed diagnosis could mean death for the patient because advanced prostate cancer cannot be cure – only treated. To that end, a lot of effort has been placed in ensuring early diagnoses of patients who are besotted with prostate cancer.
The fact that there are no symptoms in early stage prostate cancer certainly does not make matters very much easier, with improved and more widespread screening and screening tests, up to 90% of all prostate cancer cases in the United States today are diagnosed early, says the American Cancer Society, at a time when the cancer is both treatable and curable.
One of the screening tests that are used in the screening efforts to detect prostate cancer early is the PSA test, one that a lot of Americans must have heard about at this time, even if they have not experienced it. The PSA test reads the amount or volume of prostate specific antigens (PSAs) in the blood of the patient in order to determine the presence of ailments in the organ. Most men have PSA in their blood at all times, but its level in the body is usually below the critical 4.0ng/ml.
Prostate cancer cells cause the production of more PSA that are seeped into the blood, as a result when a man suffers from the carcinoma, higher levels of this enzyme are found in his blood and the disease is immediately suspected. That’s right, higher blood PSA levels do not imply that a man has prostate cancer because a lot of other ailments, especially those that affect the prostate gland, also result in PSA spikes. That is why the PSA test is merely a screening and not a diagnostic one. In order to confirm the diagnosis, a biopsy of the prostate gland may be necessary.
The PSA level of a patient however takes on more importance once the cancer has been confirmed – it becomes sort of an indicator of the severity of the patient’s suffering and how far the cancer must have spread. Of course to determine this, other staging tests have to be carried out to determine how much the disease has metastasized, but the results often have to be merged for the best results.
People should be warned that the PSA test is by no means a conclusive one. As mentioned earlier, sometimes the patient could merely be suffering from some other infection or disorder to have a higher PSA level; and in converse, there are actually some manifestations of prostate cancer that do not cause PSA rises, such as small cell sarcomas. A man at risk of prostate cancer would need to be rather more vigilant.