No Place To Hide
Last updated: September 2022
When it comes to prostate cancer, I find there is lot of misinformation. There's also a lack of knowledge when it comes to prostate issues, diseases of the prostate, prostate cancer, and all the many related treatments, including psychological support, that are available to help men.
The importance of early detection
Because I do a lot of speaking on my experiences with prostate cancer, I have now lost count on the number of times I have been asked how prostate cancer could return after the prostate was removed. Most have no idea that prostate cancer not only impacts the prostate, but it can break through the capsule surrounding the prostate and spread to other parts of the body. Initially it can spread into the lymph nodes and surrounding area called the prostate bed. After that it can continue to other parts of the body.
Early detection is important, whether the cancer is a non-aggressive variation or aggressive. Even the aggressive variety can be treated successfully when caught early. The issue for men often lies in the fact that prostate cancer is subtle and hard to detect without testing. Add to that that men tend to ignore the early warning signs and often “write it off” as a part of the normal aging process.
Why men do this has been a puzzle for years. Perhaps it's lack of knowledge, or perhaps they don't want to face the possibility of a developing prostate cancer. I was quite fortunate in that my aggressive prostate cancer was caught early and treated with surgery. Several years later it returned, and I was able to have it treated again. So far, all is good.
Advances in finding recurrent cancer
Even though it's under control, I often wonder some five years after my last treatment whether my cancer will return. Worse still: is it quietly spreading undetected? Several years ago, I was at a conference with a gentleman who was facing a rising PSA following surgery, radiation, chemo, and hormone therapy. At that time none of the available testing could find where the hidden cancer was in his body. Sadly, he died a few years ago, but I think he could have benefited from a new development called a PSMA PET scan.
Not knowing much about this technology, I jumped at the chance to attend a lecture offered by a local urologist. He opened his comments by saying this new form of detection could be a game changer in finding hidden or advanced spread of prostate cancer sites in men.
The new testing, he noted, involves a physician injecting a specific radioactive tracer into the body which then hunts down cells carrying a protein called PSMA. Prostate cancer cells often have much higher levels of PSMA than noncancerous cells. Once found and depending on location, these hot spots could be treated with additional surgery or radiation.1,2
More peace of mind
So far, my PSA levels have remained steady and undetectable. While I am happy, I now have a lot more peace of mind just knowing there are newer techniques that can find it.
If you or someone you know is facing a prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, you may want to learn about these developments. From what I heard it sure sounded exciting.
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