Treatments Vary for Prostate Cancer

The first-ever report card on the issue gives Kansas an "A" in the fight against prostate cancer. Kansas is one of four states to get top marks from the National Prostate Cancer Coalition.

Area doctors say Kansans who do get prostate cancer are fortunate to have a wide range of options available. Radiation oncologist Dr. Russell Greene says no two individuals are the same and no two cancers are the same, and that's why there's no one treatment for everybody. He says a lot of people who are older and have a cancer that is growing slowly may not need any treatment. If they are younger, he says, doctors tend to be more aggressive.

One of the newer approaches to prostate cancer is seed implantation. Doctors put tiny "seeds" of radiation in the prostate where the treatment is delivered over a period of weeks or months. Dr. Greene says it's a nice option because it requires only one out-patient surgery, rather than the daily commute required for external beam radiation or the major recovery of surgery.

But those other two options may be better for some. External beam radiation, for example, is also minimally invasive, and might be used on a larger tumor, spreading outside the prostate. Surgery is the most invasive, but could be good for a healthy person with a well-defined tumor.

Dr. Greene says men should get opinions from both a urologist and a radiation oncologist before deciding on a treatment. No matter what the choice, there is one constant. He says the results are improved when the cancer is caught in its earlier stages. The best way to do that is with an annual physical exam and blood test for all men over age fifty, earlier if you have a family history of prostate cancer or are African-American.

For more on prostate cancer, go to www.cancer.org or www.fightprostatecancer.org.


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