As a nurse, you will encounter patients suffering from all kinds of health issues. Understanding these health issues, and how to treat them is essential to improving patient outcomes. Cancer is a disease that impacts a lot of people in various forms. The fourth most common form of cancer is called prostate cancer. Many men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lifetime, making it one of the most prevalent forms of cancer affecting men.
Despite such a high prevalence, many people are unaware of what it is, how it develops, its treatment options, and its survival rate. Fast CE For Less has created this guide to help nurses expand their knowledge about this potentially deadly cancer. This guide will cover the most important facts about prostate cancer, including possible causes, stages, treatments, and survival rates.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that impacts men. The prostate is a tiny walnut-sized gland found in men, located just below their bladder. The gland is crucial to their reproductive system, responsible for producing the fluid that nourishes and transports sperm cells when men ejaculate. When a man develops prostate cancer, cells within the gland start growing without regulation to form tumors.
While the cancer develops in the prostate, it can spread to nearby tissues. If left unchecked, prostate cancer can metastasize and spread to other body parts, including lymph nodes, distant organs, and bones.
What are the Causes of Prostate Cancer?
Like with any cancer, the exact reason prostate cancer occurs is yet to be understood. However, the medical community has identified several potential factors that increase the risk:
- Occurring in one in eight men, prostate cancer develops more often in older men. Typically, men over aged 65 are diagnosed with prostate cancer, but the risk increases after they turn 50.
- A family history of prostate cancer automatically increases the risk of this disease due to the genetic disposition.
- Men with diets rich in processed and red meats but low in fruit and vegetables, along with an inactive lifestyle, can increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Stages, Treatment, & Survival Rates of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is categorized into several stages. Each stage helps determine the extent of the cancer, impacting survival rates and guiding treatment decisions. Where there are several ways to categorize the stages, the TNM system is the most commonly used. Standing for Tumor, Nodes, and Metastasis, here’s what you should know about the different stages:
Tumor stage (T): Comprising Stage I and II, this stage of prostate cancer indicates the extent and size of the main tumor in the affected man’s prostate gland. Ranging from T1, which is early stage, resulting in a small tumor you can feel in a rectal examination, to T4, when the tumor is larger and spreads to nearby tissue. The survival rate for prostate cancer at this stage has a good prognosis, with an almost 100% survival rate.
Node stage (N): Also called Stage III prostate cancer, this stage is when the cancerous growth spreads to the lymph nodes near the prostate gland. When it is N0, it means there is no involvement of the lymph nodes. When lymph nodes are involved, it is classified further as N1. Even at this stage, the five-year prognosis is not bad. The survival rate for prostate cancer at this stage is also almost 100%.
Metastasis stage (M): When left unchecked and untreated, prostate cancer can metastasize, spreading to other parts of the body. Classified as M0, when the metastasis is nearby, and M1, when metastasis occurs in distant organs, it is the deadliest stage of the cancer. When this cancer becomes this advanced, the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer drops down to 30%.
Treatment for Prostate Cancer
Depending on the stage and severity of the disease, a doctor may prescribe a range of treatments to cure prostate cancer. Some possible treatments include:
- Surgical removal of the gland
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted and immunotherapy
- Hormone therapy
It is essential to note that the statistics on survival rates for prostate cancer are general estimates. In individual cases, the situation can vary. Early diagnosis and timely treatment are crucial in ensuring a positive outcome.
As a nurse, it is essential for you to encourage male patients to maintain routine health check-ups, including prostate exams, especially as they get older.
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