MEDFORD, Ore. — According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, after skin cancer. It can often be treated successfully.
About 15%-20% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, only 3% will die of prostate cancer, according to Urologist, Liam Macleod with Asante.
Prostate cancer, like most cancers, depends on the severity and aggressiveness of the cancer once its found. If you find it early enough you might not have to have any kind of treatment.
“Men may be able to avoid treatment and the side effects of treatment for a period of time,” says Macleod.
Prostate cancer progresses slowly, so observation is one of the options following a diagnosis. However, in some cases, treatment is necessary and if that’s the case, you have two options; surgery or radiation. Radiation treatment can last up the eight weeks but doesn’t impact your day to day life as much as surgery. Surgery is on a shorter timeframe.
“One to two days in the hospital a quick recovery with a catheter for a week or so and then normal post-operative recovery from a major surgery like that,” says Dr. Kenneth Haugen with Providence Cancer Institute.
The important thing is the be well informed. There is a wide range of stages for prostate cancer, from very early stages where observation is all that is needed, to very advance where radiation or surgery is necessary. It’s always up to the patient what treatment they prefer; all have pros and cons and it’s a discussion you should have with your doctor and those who are close to you.
Former gastroenterologist, Jim Hoftiezer, just surpassed his fifth anniversary being cancer free after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014. Hoftiezer says he started getting screened for prostate cancer before the recommended age of 50, just to be diligent. When his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were heightened during his annual screening he decided to visit a urologist.
“She did a rectal exam and couldn’t feel anything, the prostate felt normal,” said Hoftiezer, “I thought ‘great’ but she would not allow me to take that step and she said ‘no, we have to do the biopsies’.”
The biopsies revealed a moderately aggressive form of prostate cancer.
“Then I had the option,” said Hoftiezer, “do I watch it for a while, do I have radiation or should I have surgery, in my experience being a physician, I immediately wanted surgery.”
The surgery was successful but the battle wasn’t over. One of the side-effects of prostate cancer surgery is impotence, or the inability for a man to get an erection or orgasm.
“The loss of our normal sexual relationship was uncomfortable,” says Hoftiezer, “it was something that neither of us wanted and we didn’t really totally understand until we reached that point, that this was something that was a loss to both of us.”
While impotence is a common side-effect for prostate cancer treatment, there are ways to treat it.
“My life is very satisfying, our sexual relationship is back to being very satisfying,” says Hoftiezer, “the prostheses and so on function quite well and the side effects now are actually quite minimal and don’t interfere with our life anymore.”