Prostate Cancer Screening, PSA Screening & Treatment Information
Prostate cancer remains a global health issue representing the most common cancer in men and the second most cause of death related to cancer in the western world. The Prostate Cancer Foundation estimates that one in six men will get prostate cancer (PCa) in their lifetime, and that by 2013 an estimated five million men in America will be battling PCa. However, the progression rate of prostate cancer is slower and as such most men diagnosed with prostate cancer will die from other causes.
In a recent publication of a long-term follow-up of men who chose watchful waiting, the prostate cancer mortality rate was 15 per 1000 person-years during the first 15 years post diagnosis of early stage prostate cancer and beyond 15 years it increased to 44 per 1000 person-years. The low rate of mortality, particularly over the first 15 years, is a prime reason for why the morbidity associated with a treatment along with life expectancy plays a critical role in the choice of treatment for an individual.
The epidemiological surveillance of prostate cancer since the popularity of PSA screening and early detection, along with a longer living population, the large Baby Boomer generation and the fact that the median age of time to diagnosis has gotten younger, has resulted in an increased number of men requiring therapy. In general, men are overwhelmed with the variety of treatment options, but clearly want longer and healthier lives without the inconvenient and sometimes painful side effects of other treatments that previous generations accepted in silence. They are looking for alternatives to radical surgery or radiation. They are demanding more effective minimally invasive treatments with less risk of adverse events that may compromise quality of life.
The wide spread impact of this disease has drawn major attention and controversy to the long list of treatment options. The ideal treatment for localized prostate cancer would be: complete elimination of the prostate, no preoperative complications or blood transfusion, rapid convalescence, and complete recovery of baseline sexual, urinary and bowel function. Achieving all parameters is rare, regardless of treatment. The extent of harmful outcomes depends on the type of treatment and associated collateral damage to surrounding tissues, i.e. (urinary sphincter, neurovascular bundles) and other related morbidity’s. Refinements of radical surgical techniques, as well as other less invasive procedures, such as Cryosurgery or Image Guided Radiotherapy, have had little impact on related morbidity’s. 
Nerve Sparing Radical prostatectomy: The gold standard, OVER 25 Years Later
It has now been over 25 years since Patrick Walsh first described nerve sparing radical prostatectomy, a procedure that still remains the gold standard for many urologists and revolutionized how we treat prostate cancer. It was his unprecedented research that paved the way for the preservation of the neurovascular bundle and erectile function. Yet, what was ushered in as the modern era of the ideal treatment for localized prostate cancer has proved to be controversial and is still associated with significant morbidity? Few surgeons have been able to achieve the rate of voiding and erectile function preservation, and often at the expense of higher incidence of positive margins and recurrence. More recent data reflects that many patients who undergo a nerve sparing prostatectomy and have negative margins may still show progression of disease, despite undergoing complete resection of organ confined disease.
Yet, the incidence of recurrence, independent of the status of surgical margins, and after adjusting for PSA, Gleason score, and/or Tumor Volume remains unacceptably high. Therefore, suggesting a more complex interplay of biologic behavior is in place- independent of the surgeon’s skills, and of the status of margin free disease.
Current mainstream PCa treatment options – radical, laparoscopic and robotic surgery, Brachytherapy, external beam radiation, and cryosurgery – have shown no significant differences in long-term outcomes. A large percentage of men diagnosed with PCa will choose no treatment and will opt for a “watchful waiting” or expectant management, an approach that calls for active monitoring of the course of the disease with an expectation to intervene if the cancer progresses. An incredulous decision by cancer victims willing to forgo treatment altogether, and risk progression of disease. The fact is that two separate American Urologic Association (AUA) panels on the “Guidelines for the treatment of localized prostate cancer,” reviewed data dating back to 1989 -reported in 1995, and then again as the most recent 2007 report, have failed to identify optimal treatment.
Common side effects of mainstream PCa treatments include deterioration or compromise of urinary, sexual and bowel functions. The extent of harmful outcome depends on the type of treatment and the damage to tissues other than the prostate gland, i.e., the external sphincter, neurovascular bundles and rectum. The mechanism of injury with surgery is a result of inability to identify and preserve these structures. In the process of cryosurgery there is leaking of Argon gas and lethal freezing of adjacent tissue. With radiotherapy, it is the result of ionizing radiation emitted to intervening and/or surrounding tissue. Furthermore, there is a documented increase incidence of Rectal Cancer associated with radiotherapy of the prostate, in which the most recent study reported a 70 % greater incidence in patients that received radiation versus patients who underwent a prostatectomy. Even with the most recent refinements to radical surgery and radiation therapy have had little effect on the key treatment related morbidity
The fact is there lacks a universal opinion of what is the optimal treatment for localized prostate cancer. however, High Intensity Focus Ultrasound (HIFU) has evolved into and acceptable alternative with comparable clinical outcomes, but with less risks of urinary incontinence, bowel function and erectile dysfunction.
America, what You Should Know About Prostate Cancer . Don’t be a statistic :
- Approximately 161,000 men will be told they have prostate cancer this year.
- A physical exam and simple blood test to establish a baseline PSA (prostate-specific antigen) score today could help save a life later.
- Aside from age, risk factors for prostate cancer include family history and race.
- One in seven men will develop prostate cancer.
- One in five African American men will develop prostate cancer.
- One in three men with a family history will develop prostate cancer.
- If you are age 55 to 69, Talk to Your Doctor about prostate screening.
Know Your Risk. Some men are at higher risk for prostate cancer. Talk to your Doctor about prostate cancer
screening if you are age 40 to 54 years and:
- are African-American
- have a father, brother or son who has had prostate cancer
- It is not just a men’s disease. Women too suffer from the ramifications of prostate cancer. It is a couples dis-ease, that does not need to be, thanks to High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU).