Every man, including many here in North Carolina, has at least some worry about their prostate as they age. Prostate cancer is so common among men that one out of every six men will eventually be diagnosed. This makes prostate cancer the most diagnosed cancer for men. Lung cancer is the only form of cancer that kills more men a year.
With all these statistics being made known to men, they have understandable anxiety. But thankfully, just like our society is quickly advancing in many other areas of science, technology, and medicine, prostate cancer treatment is making strides, as well.
In October, 2015, the FDA approved a treatment called HIFU, or high intensity focused ultrasounds. Traditionally, prostate cancer treatments involved radiation, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy, but this adds another option to the treatment arsenal. The benefits of HIFU include being less invasive, having very few side-effects, and having a quick recovery time.
The procedure was blocked by the FDA for a while but after some time to observe other countries’ experiences with it and to do their own testing, the department decided to approve it. HIFU applies high heat directly to the cancer-affected area to kill the cells while sparing harm to surrounding healthy cells in a non-invasive procedure.
But HIFU isn’t the only advancement in the area of prostate cancer. The medical community is continually learning new information and developing new procedures. Some are as simple as recognizing the importance of exercising and eating healthy. One study found when they looked at a group of 10,000 men, the ones who exercised the most were 34% less likely to die in a given period than the group who exercised the least. Another found that those who were obese and ate high-fat diets increased the activity of cancer causing genes in their tumors.
In addition to verifying age-old wisdom like eating healthily and exercising, and introducing new treatments like HIFU, modern science has also improved upon the previously relied-upon treatments. Hormone treatment was first introduced in 1941 for prostate cancer, and has been a staple ever since. The idea is to deny the tumor certain hormones called androgens that it relies on to grow. These treatments are getting more advanced though in that negative effects are being blocked, and sometimes other hormones are now introduced to optimize the treatments.
On top of that, some medical researchers have even broken down the human genome and can tell, based on your genetic traits, which of the many available prostate cancer treatments would be best for you and would be least likely to cause complications. They have now customized the process down to a genetic level. Needless to say, treatment for prostate cancer is getting more efficient and effective every year. Our patients, whether in Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Clinton, Dunn, or Clayton, North Carolina, will have many great options if they are given a prostate cancer diagnosis.