If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, then this is likely to have knocked you for six. This is an extremely frightening diagnosis and one that is also fraught with other personal issues. You may feel scared, you might worry about the future, and you might even feel embarrassed to talk about it. There is a lot to work through.
The good news is that prostate cancer is a highly treatable issue when caught early and has a very high recovery rate. There are lots of treatment options, and not all of these are highly invasive.
Why Prostate Cancer Requires Lifelong Monitoring?
On top of all this, prostate cancer is certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. This is an extremely common illness, and it is something that a lot of people go through.
But there are still complications and downsides. One of the biggest issues is that once you have had prostate cancer, you will need lifelong monitoring to ensure that it doesn’t come back.
In this post, we’re going to examine why that is and what it means.
What is Prostate Cancer?
To understand why prostate cancer needs observation, it helps to first understand what prostate cancer is and how it occurs.
In this regard, prostate cancer works like any other form of cancer.
Prostate cancer occurs when there is damage to the DNA that results in mutation and faulty cells.
Inside each of your cells is a nucleus, which in turn contains your DNA. That DNA provides the “blueprint” for your body and instructs cells on where to go, how to build your tissue, etc.
Of course, your cells will naturally die. Every 10-12 years, in fact, every single one of your cells gets replaced. That means that your cells also need to multiply in order to maintain the correct count. To do this, they must split in half and divide that way. This process is called mitosis: where a single cell splits down the middle to create two identical cells.
The problems occur though when damage occurs to that DNA. This can occur naturally, it can be the result of sun damage or damage caused by irritants such as sugar and nicotine, or it can occur as we age simply due to the degradation of the DNA strands at the ends.
When your DNA is damaged, this alters the function of the cell and it can thereby stop doing its job properly. That’s not an issue when it is just one cell. However, if a large percentage of the cells in an organ stop working, this can then begin to lead to macroscopic damage.
That is to say that your organs are going to stop functioning properly, and you may thus become ill.
And this is precisely what happens as cells divide and multiply. Each time your cells copy themselves as they split, they bring a new copy of the DNA with them. If the DNA is damaged, then that means that the very same damaged DNA will be copied over and over.
Gradually, the faulty cells increase in number, creating what we call a tumor: a group of cancerous cells that don’t perform the way they are meant to, and that is spreading rapidly.
When this occurs in the prostate, that is what is known as prostate cancer.
Treatment and Monitoring
If you were to visit a doctor with this problem, they would attempt to help you address it in one of a few ways. One option would be to use radiotherapy.
This involves firing radio waves at the cells in order to destroy them. Another would be chemotherapy, which effectively poisons cells and causes them to stop functioning and die (apoptosis).
The unfortunate thing is that these processes can also harm healthy cells, which is one reason that a lot of people experience pain and sickness when undergoing chemotherapy in particular. But as long as it kills enough of the cancerous cells and prevents them from spreading, then this will be considered a worthwhile endeavor.
Prostate Cancer Surgery
The final option is surgery, which simply involves cutting out the tumor. This is a quick and highly effective way to remove the cancerous cells, though it can lead to complications – such as difficulty going to the toilet and long recovery times.
This is also why it’s so important to keep monitoring the situation. None of these procedures can guarantee that you will completely get rid of cancer in your body. With surgery, it is always possible that some of cancer might be left behind. With radiotherapy or chemotherapy, some cancerous cells might survive.
This can sound scary but it isn’t as bad as it seems. The truth is that all of us have cancerous cells at all times! The key is that the body and the immune system destroys them faster than they can multiply. As long as that is the case, then you shouldn’t be concerned.
BUT this is why prostate cancer also requires lifelong monitoring. The key is to ensure that the number of cancerous cells does not grow and that the body continues to win the fight. As long as this is the case, then no further, subsequent procedures should be needed. If it is not the case, then you may need further treatment.
This is a frightening diagnosis then, but it is also one with extremely good prospects. Listen to your physician and you should be healthy again in no time.
Adult Pediatric Urology & Urogynecology, PC | Urologists Omaha & Council Bluffs, IA
Adult Pediatric Urology, PC has 7 board-certified physicians and attentive, dedicated staff. We have served Nebraska and Iowa since 1982 with two locations in Omaha and Council Bluffs. Our Omaha location includes an accredited outpatient surgical center with state-of-the-art equipment and a comfortable waiting area just minutes from Interstate 680. Our physicians successfully perform hundreds of traditional and no-scalpel vasectomies every year.
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We specialize in urological disorders, including conditions, diseases, and urological cancers of the prostate, bladder, and kidney; female urology; pediatric urology; sexual medicine, and clinical research.