Prostate cancer is the most common form of non-skin cancer in America. It is the second leading cause of death among males in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that 29,412 men died from prostate cancer in 2008.

During the month of November, men nationwide went the extra mile to raise awareness of the disease by dubbing the month as “Movember” and growing mustaches for prostate cancer charities.

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, with likelihood increasing with age.

Got your attention yet?

Good – now get educated.

Prostate Screenings

Without a doubt, the best chance for a positive outcome is getting a regular screening so potential problems are caught early. The best bet – getting prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) yearly starting at age 50. For those with family history or other risk factors, screening should begin at age 45.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you or someone you love is diagnosed with prostate cancer, there are a variety of options for treatment. Each should be explored thoroughly with a qualified physician to decide the best method for the patient.

These options include, but are not limited to:

  • Active surveillance — Essentially watchful waiting, this option may be best for those in very early stages or with very slow growing cancer
  • Prostatectomy — Surgical removal of the entire prostate gland and some surrounding tissue
  • Radiation Therapy — Directed radioactive exposure that kills the cancerous cells and surrounding tissues
  • Hormone Therapy — Also known as androgen-deprivation therapy, or ADT, prostate cancer cell growth relies on the hormone testosterone as the main fuel; ADT removes that fuel.
  • Chemotherapy — The use of chemicals that kill or halt the growth of cancer cells

As science progresses, studies have demonstrated that radiation treatment — delivered externally and internally — is as effective in treating the disease as surgical removal of the prostate. Although there are side effects associated with radiation, patients who choose this treatment often cite the risks — most notably incontinence and impotence.

One of the biggest issues doctors face in delivering radiation, however, to the prostate tumor is organ motion, a natural and commonly-occurring bodily function. Clinical studies have documented that organ motion is both unpredictable and variable.

As a result, nearly 100 medical centers throughout the country have adopted a “GPS for the Body®” treatment using the Calypso System, which enables physicians to determine the exact location of the prostate in real-time during radiation therapy.

Other breakthroughs also continue to occur, including the use of the TrueBeam system, which can deliver treatments up to 50 percent faster with a dose delivery rate of up to 2,400 monitor units per minute, double the maximum output of earlier, industry-leading systems. This makes it possible to offer greater patient comfort by shortening treatments and to improve precision by leaving less time for tumor motion during dose delivery.

The precision of a TrueBeam system is measured in increments of less than a millimeter. This accuracy is made possible by the system’s sophisticated architecture, which establishes a new level of synchronization between imaging, patient positioning, motion management, beam shaping and dose delivery technologies, performing accuracy checks every 10 milliseconds throughout an entire treatment. Over 100,000 data points are monitored continually as a treatment progresses, ensuring that the system maintains a “true isocenter,” or focal point of treatment.

And armed with regular testing, early detection and knowledge of the wide variety of treatment options, most experts agree that prostate cancer is treatable and highly curable.

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