Prostate cancer is common among men above the age of 50, and the treatment options include surgery, radiation and hormone therapy. This article provides a brief overview about the side effects of such treatment.
Prostate cancer is the cancer of the prostate gland, and men above the age of 50 are found to be prone to this condition. The treatment for prostate cancer depends on the stage of the cancer and various other factors, like the age and health condition of the patient. If the malignant tumor has not spread to other parts, and is still inside the prostate, radiation therapy and a surgery, called radical prostatectomy, are suggested. For very old men, ‘watchful waiting’ is recommended. If the tumor is big enough to fill the prostate gland, hormone therapy is administered to reduce the rate of cancer growth and to shrink the tumor.
Men affected with prostate cancer may experience side effects either due to the cancer growth or due to the treatment. The side effects may vary from one form of treatment to another, and from one patient to another. It may also vary with the extent of the treatment.
Prostatectomy or prostate removal surgery, may cause permanent impotence or urinary incontinence. However, these problems are solved to some extent, with the help of the latest technologies. Now these techniques are incorporated in prostate removal surgeries. Such surgeries are termed nerve sparing surgeries, and are helpful in preventing permanent damage to the nerves that control erection and bladder movement. In some cases, these techniques are fully successful, and the surgery causes temporary side effects only. However, men who have undergone prostatectomy, no longer produce semen and experience dry orgasms. Like any other surgery, prostatectomy also result in side effects, like pain and weakness. The recovery period and the severity of the side effects may vary from one person to another.
Mild side effects of radiation include weakness, diarrhea or frequent urination. Apart from that, the skin of the area which receives radiation, may turn red, dry and tender. Hair loss may also occur, which can be temporary or permanent. More serious side effects include impotence, which may develop in some patients. Impotence is often associated with external radiation therapy rather than the internal one. This is because, internal radiation therapy is less likely to cause damage to the nerves that are responsible for controlling erection.
The common side effects of hormone therapy administered for prostate cancer patients are hot flashes, impotence and loss of libido. Some types of hormone treatment may worsen the symptoms, before improving the condition of the patient gradually. If the patient is given estrogen or anti-androgen treatment, he may experience swelling of the chest, along with nausea or vomiting. This type of treatment is normally not advised for those, who suffer from heart diseases. Estrogen may lead to heart diseases in men, and worsen the condition for those who are already suffering from heart problems.
As far as chemotherapy is concerned, side effects vary with the types of drugs used for the treatment. Alternative cancer treatments such as biological therapy, are often associated with fever, chills, weakness, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, etc. Some people may develop rashes and a tendency to bleed and bruise easily. You cannot avoid prostate cancer treatment side effects, as treatment is necessary to prevent the cancer from spreading. Your doctor may recommend certain measures to reduce the severity of the symptoms.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.