The prostate gland in males is known to control the release of urine from the bladder and is also responsible for the secretion of seminal fluid.
Prostate cancer results in varied symptoms that may range from painful urination to appearance of blood in the urine. At times, prostate cancer may not be associated with any symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage.
Advanced cases of prostate cancer can result in some severe symptoms such as constant pain in the bones and compression of the spine. The treatment of prostate cancer during the early stages offers more positive outcomes than when treated in advanced stages.
The treatment option of prostate cancer is chosen based on several factors such as severity of the condition, age of the affected individual, and stage of cancer. The treatment options for prostate cancer ranges from watchful waiting to surgical removal of the prostate gland. Some of the options that are frequently used to treat individuals suffering from prostate cancer have been listed below. These options may offer varying results based on the severity of the cancer.
This option is offered to individuals in whom prostate cancer is of mild variety and is not associated with any symptoms and also does not display any signs of progression. The affected individual requires periodic checkups to monitor the progress of cancer.
X-ray radiation in measured doses at regular intervals is one of the treatment options in prostate cancer. The radiation may be delivered either externally with certain specialised machines or internally with the use of implants.
In certain instances synthetic hormones are administered in order to decrease the production of the male hormone testosterone. This hormone is believed to increase the growth of cancer cells in individuals with prostate cancer.
Administration of certain drugs that either prevent the growth of cancer cells or kill the cancer cells may be advised in certain mild to moderate cases of prostate cancer.
This treatment modality involves the insertion of certain specialised probes into the prostate gland to freeze and destroy the cancer cells.
The prostate gland may be partially or completely removed based on the extent of cancer.
Alternative treatment options
The traditional treatment options may sometimes be not able to offer complete cure in individuals suffering from prostate cancer. In some instances, treatment options such as chemotherapy are associated with adverse effects due to prolonged use of anti-cancer medications.
This has led to the search of alternative options that may provide relief to the affected individuals. Although some of the alternative approaches may provide symptomatic relief, none of these options have been proven to have curative effects. The alternative treatments may be useful only as a complimentary therapeutic option to the basic treatment options for prostate cancer.
Some of the alternative treatment options may be broadly categorised as:
- Herbal supplementation
- Nutrition therapy
- Mind-body medicine
- Physical therapy
Numerous herbal substances are being widely studied for their efficacy in treating the symptoms associated with prostate cancer. Some of the commonly marketed herbal supplements as symptom relieving agents include: African plum tree, African wild potato, pumpkin, rye grass and stinging nettle. Furthermore, flavonoids, coenzyme Q10 and pycnogenol have also been used for symptomatic relief.
Certain specialized therapeutic foods such as shark or bovine cartilage, soybean preparations, maitake mushrooms and numerous others are also marketed and used widely. These supplements may relieve the symptoms associated with prostate cancer but more detailed studies are required for determining their efficacy and safety in case of prolonged use. Physician’s consent has to be obtained before trying out these herbal supplements.
As age progresses the body’s ability to absorb the essential nutrients from the foods that we consume may deteriorate. This leads to deficiency of the essential nutrients which may have certain other consequences. The physicians generally advise a balanced meal in order to provide the body with an optimal supply of essential nutrients.
The consumption of fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and other foods of high nutritional value are generally advised. Additionally vitamin supplementation may also be advised. Adequate amounts of the essential nutrients in the body prevents numerous complications and may also help to counter some of the adverse effects associated with the basic treatment options being employed to treat prostate cancer.
A healthy mind can be the way to a healthy body. Cancers such as prostate cancers result in an increase in the stress being experienced by the affected individuals. The prolonged therapy and the associated symptoms of cancer can have an impact on the mind of the affected individuals leading to depression, anxiety and other symptoms.
Mind-body medicine aims at relieving the mental stress through various modalities such as behavioural therapy, stress management therapies, counselling the affected individual and his family and enrolment in support groups. Such therapy helps in relaxing the individual, helps him stay more focussed towards better health, and attain a positive attitude towards life. These treatment modalities are often advised by doctors along with the basic treatment options such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy or prostatectomy.
Physical therapy aims at keeping the affected individual physically fit. This therapy may include options such as massage therapy and physical activities. Increasing age is often associated with reduced physical activity. Increasing the physical activity to a certain extent can improve the overall health of the affected individual and relieve other symptoms that are associated with decreased physical activity. Routine activities such as walking, jogging, cycling can also be beneficial in relaxing the mind.
Traditional healing therapies such as acupuncture, acupressure, hypnotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathy and many others have been employed by alternative therapy practitioners to relieve the symptoms associated with prostate cancer. The amount of relief obtained from these therapies varies in each individual and these therapies cannot be used as a curative option for prostate cancer.