Prostate Cancer Treatment Complications and Side Effects

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There are various treatments that are used as interventions for prostate cancer, and depending on the stage of the cancer or on the overall health of the patient, they be directed toward curing the cancer or merely treating it to provide palliation for the patient. Known conventional prostate cancer treatments include active surveillance or watchful waiting, prostatectomy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormonal therapy, to mention but a few.

The disturbing thing is that all of these treatments have their side effects that may not be too easy for the patient to live with. Below are outlined just a few of them to provide a reasonable mind picture:

Hormonal therapy for instance uses medications or surgery to block prostate cancer cells from getting dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a hormone that is produced in the prostate and required for the progression and metastasis of most forms of prostate cancer. The said medications are generally antiandrogens which block DHT and cause prostate cancer to stop growing and even shrink. The surgery is orchiectomy to remove the male testicles and cease the production of testosterone and DHT.

The complications of hormonal therapy include the fact that it rarely cures prostate cancer and may even cause the tumor to become resistant after one to two years. Orchiectomy is a low-risk surgery, but one that might have a profound psychological impact on the patient, while also causing hot flashes, weight gain, loss of libido, enlargement of the breasts, impotence and osteoporosis. The medications may yield similar side effects or even worse. They may also cause increased bone pain from metastatic cancer, potential liver damage with prolonged use, and possible skin rashes.

Prostatectomy is a common treatment either for early stage prostate cancer, or as salvage for failed radiation therapy. It cures the disease but because of the nerves in the prostate region that control erection, it can cause impotence. Another common serious complication of surgery is loss of urinary control, however this fades with time, at least partially. Potency pills like Viagra or Cialis can help with the impotence.

Radiation therapy treats all stages of prostate cancer with ionizing radiation, killing the cancer, but also hurting other cells in the process. The normal cells may recuperate after several weeks, but until they do, the patient may have to put up with diarrhea and mild rectal bleeding from radiation proctitis, as well as possible incontinence and impotence.

It’s just the way it is, an option between living (and) with the condition, and possibly living longer (with a slightly lowered quality of life perhaps) in the aftermath of prostate cancer treatment. It’s the patient’s call.

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