Prostate Cancer and Rehab

Prostate cancer – disease, therapy and rehabilitation

Prostate cancer (prostate cancer) is the most common cancer in men. The earlier the cancer is recognized, the better the chances of recovery. However, prostate cancer does not cause symptoms in the early stages and is often discovered late. Therefore, early detection studies play an important role. Find out everything about diagnosis, therapy and rehabilitation (rehabilitation) for prostate cancer here.

Prostate cancer: general

The prostate or prostate gland is one of the internal male genital organs. It is a chestnut-sized gland that surrounds the upper part of the urethra. The prostate gland performs important functions in reproduction. Your secretion is released during orgasm together with the sperm cells and ensures optimal sperm motility. It also contains ingredients that are important for the sperm to mature and fertilize the egg.

Until a few years ago, lung and colon cancer were the most common cancers in men in USA. In the meantime, prostate cancer has overtaken it and is now number one in new cancer cases for men. In 2012, almost 63,700 men in USA were diagnosed with prostate cancer (1). The disease primarily affects older men aged 70 and over. Prostate cancer rarely occurs before the age of 50.

Prostate cancer: causes

The cause of prostate cancer is not yet known. However, there are certain risk factors that contribute to the development of a tumor in the prostate. The risk increases with age. Genetic predisposition is also a risk factor. If close relatives are affected, men should therefore place particular emphasis on examinations for the early detection of prostate cancer. Previously, high levels of testosterone were thought to trigger prostate cancer. In the meantime, researchers have found that testosterone can contribute to the growth of cancer but does not cause it. Too much animal fat in the diet, lack of exercise, alcohol and smoking can increase the general risk of cancer. So far it is not entirely clear whether diet and lifestyle also have an impact on the development of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer: appearance/symptoms

In the early stages, prostate cancer does not cause any symptoms. Certain symptoms appear later. However, these can also indicate benign changes in the prostate that occur relatively frequently. The cause can only be determined by medical examinations. An enlarged prostate and advanced prostate cancer can press on the urethra. Those affected often notice problems with urination at first. Blood or discoloration of urine or semen is also possible. In the advanced stage, pain during ejaculation, erection problems, bowel problems or non-specific complaints in the area of ​​the coccyx and urinary bladder can occur. Sometimes these manifest themselves as lower back pain.

Prostate cancer: examinations & diagnosis

The earlier changes in the prostate are detected, the better. That is why regular examinations for early detection are recommended. Especially if you have specific complaints, you should always seek medical advice. There are often benign prostate enlargements that affect every second man over 50. However, these can lead to problems in the long term, so going to the doctor is also an advantage in this case.

Early detection of prostate cancer

Experts recommend checkups to men over 45 once a year. This allows prostate cancer to be recognized early and the chances of recovery improved. The recommended examinations include questions about complaints, examination of the external genital organs, palpation of the testicles and lymph nodes as well as a rectal palpation examination.

Rectal palpation

The prostate borders directly on the rectum. This allows the doctor to feel the size and nature of the prostate through the intestinal wall. Although the examination is uncomfortable for many patients, it is completely harmless and painless.

PSA level

PSA (prostate-specific antigen) is formed in the prostate and serves to make the man’s ejaculate thinner. The measurement of PSA in the blood is controversial for the early detection of prostate cancer, since the value is increased even with harmless inflammation or benign enlargement of the prostate. However, the PSA determination is important if there is a specific suspicion of prostate cancer.

Tissue extraction (biopsy)

Prostate cancer can only be reliably proven by examining tissue. To do this, the doctor takes several small samples from the modified prostate using a hollow needle. The needles are very thin and cause only a short, slight pain. Therefore anesthesia is not necessary. The cells from the prostate are then examined in the laboratory under a microscope. The result shows whether cancer cells are present and how aggressive the cancer is.

Prostate cancer: therapy & rehab

If the cancer is recognized early, it can usually be completely cured. In advanced forms of the disease, the cancer cells spread to the neighboring tissues or form metastars (colonization of cancer cells) in other parts of the body. In this case, treatment is all about preventing cancer from growing.

Therapy for prostate cancer

Treatment options for prostate cancer have developed significantly in recent years. Doctors can alternatively replace the surgical removal of the prostate with icing, X-rays or special ultrasound. Complementary treatments such as chemotherapy kill cancer cells or prevent them from growing. Because testosterone stimulates the growth of cancer cells, therapies that inhibit testosterone are sometimes used. Your doctor will discuss with you exactly which of the many forms of treatment is best for you.

Rehabilitation for prostate cancer

After treatment, you may experience long-term physical effects from prostate removal. In addition, there is the psychological burden that comes with every cancer diagnosis. In rehab you can recover from all the consequences of the disease and the therapy. Sensitive problems such as urinary incontinence, bowel problems or erectile dysfunction are also discussed and treated with experienced specialists.

Incontinence (“urination”)

Urinary incontinence often occurs as a side effect of surgery or other therapies that remove the prostate (2). Smaller or larger amounts of urine are lost in an uncontrolled manner. Incontinence may limit you in everyday life or make you embarrassed. This is understandable, but luckily the function of the sphincter can be rebuilt with targeted exercises. In rehab, you will also receive helpful tips on handling utensils such as insoles, which you can use to live inconspicuously and discreetly with your urinary incontinence.

Erectile dysfunction (potency problems)

If certain nerves are injured during surgery or damaged by radiation, impotence or reduced erectile function may initially occur. In rehab, patients learn everything about aids and medications that restore potency. Discussions with other people affected help to deal with this sensitive issue.

Psychological and medical care

Specialist rehabilitation clinics await you with “multi-track” care. Urologists and specialists take care of the physical problems. This includes not only incontinence or problems with the erection, but also complaints such as lymphedema (water retention in the tissue), scar pain, severe exhaustion and much more. The mental stress can be dealt with in discussions with psychologists. Sports and exercise offers restore physical resilience.

Chances of recovery and positive effects of rehab

The chances of a cure for prostate cancer are very good. But therapy often has consequences. To alleviate these after-effects, the Society for Urology recommends rehab in its guideline “Prostate Cancer” (3). The benefits can be seen in the example of urinary incontinence: with the right training, 95 percent of the time urine can be kept normal again after a while.

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