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prostate cancer
health care provider
biopsy
health issues
treatment options
best choice
period of time
choices
Prostate Cancer: Now What?
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Just Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer

So the doctor has just given you the news that you have the most curable of cancers, now what? Do I need to start treatment right away, or can I delay that decision for a while? What are my options? What are the side effects that I will have to deal with? How severe will they be?

The answers to each of these questions is based on a number of factors. How old are you? What is your general state of health? What are your PSA readings? How have the PSA readings been doing over the last few years? What was your Gleason score from your biopsy? How do each of these factors relate to the others?

Age

Because prostate cancer develops slowly for most men, the decision for treatment can be months or years away. For many, the wait and see treatment is the most reasonable. For those who may be seventy or older, waiting is generally the best course of action. Careful monitoring of PSA's will probably be all you will need to do. This is primarily due to the fact that it will be some other condition that will be our cause of death.

However, for those under seventy, the choices may be more complicated. This is where your overall health will come into play. Are there any factors in your life that may cause the cancer to begin to grow more rapidly? How close to seventy are you? For those under sixty, generally it is better to plan for treatment options other than waiting, but there will probably be a period of time you can wait before choosing which treatment will be the best choice for you.

Overall Health

For those of us who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, one of the factors that must be considered is our overall state of health. This is where a candid discussion with your health care provider will be important. The more your doctor knows about your health issues, or non-issues, the better they can advise you on your various treatment options. In some cases, you may be advised to decide on a treatments in a relative short period of time. In other cases, the wait and see treatment will be fine for the time being, giving you ample time to talk with others who have faced the decisions you are facing and are dealing with, or living with, as the case may be with the side effects of their course of treatment.

PSA Reading and Gleason Score

For most of us from our mid-forties on, we have been been having our blood drawn and having our PSA level checked. If we have been paying attention, we would have noticed that our PSA level very gradually creeps up on us. Mostly keeping under four, which is still in the safe range. However, for some of us, it climbs past five, then six, then seven and even higher. When it reaches these more elevated levels our doctor generally will decide at some point that we need a biopsy. Once that is done, a pathologist will study the biopsies and give us our Gleason score.

When we get those results from the doctor, that is when he tells us whether or not we indeed have prostate cancer. He also informs us of the severity of the cancer based on the PSA and Gleason scores and give us our prognosis. It is then he gives us the initial treatment options and a time frame when that decision needs to be made.

Conclusion

Based on your age, health, PSA and Gleason, you have several courses of treatment to consider. In your discussion with your physician, spouse, other prostate cancer survivors and others in your support group you will make the decisions that will determine what the possible side effects you might be be faced with for the rest of your life. Some of the side effects may be short-term in duration and not very severe. Unfortunately, for some, the courses of treatment will result in some side effects that will be with you for the rest of your days and may be very severe. No one can tell you beforehand what your side effects will be. Talk to prostate cancer survivors and find out what the side effects they have had and how they are dealing with them. Fortunately, in most cases, the side effects today are milder and fewer than a few years ago, but no one can predict what will happen to you. One side effect for most treatments of prostate cancer will be impotency or erectile dysfunction. Each of the treatments will have their own set of issues you will need to deal with to be a survivor of prostate cancer. Choose wisely and carefully and life will be bearable, if not great.


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