The prostate gland is part of a man’s reproductive system. It is about the size of a walnut. It is located inside the body, between the bladder and the penis. It surrounds the upper part of the tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the penis. The prostate makes fluid that nourishes sperm and helps carry it out of the body during sex.
Prostate cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the prostate gland. Growths of cancer cells are called tumors. If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is still prostate cancer, and is called metastatic cancer.
There are different types and stages of prostate cancer based on what kind of cancer cells are found, where the tumor started and where it has spread. Knowing the stage of prostate cancer you have helps your healthcare provider decide on the best treatment plan for you. Although most prostate cancer grows very slowly, it is important to diagnose and treat prostate cancer that is at high risk to spread as soon as possible. The main goals of treatment are to kill the tumor cells, prevent a localized cancer from spreading, and prevent metastatic cancer from spreading more than it already has.
The cause of prostate cancer is not known. Studies have found or suggested the following risk factors for prostate cancer:
Age: Age is the main risk factor for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is rarely found in men younger than 50. The chance of getting it gets higher as a man gets older. Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer are older than 65.
Heredity: A man’s risk is 2 to 3 times higher if his father or brother had prostate cancer.
Race: Prostate cancer is more common and more aggressive in African-American men.
Diet: Studies suggest that men who eat a diet high in red meat and high-fat dairy products or who are obese may have an increased risk for prostate cancer.
How can I take care of myself when I go home?
Your chance of cure depends on how far the cancer has spread. How long it takes to get better depends on your treatment, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have. You may need to make lifestyle changes to stay as healthy as possible. The most common complications following prostatectomy are urinary incontinence and impotence.
Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you are to take them, and why you take each one.
Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
Talk to your provider before you use any other medicines, including nonprescription medicines.
Your provider may prescribe medicine to:
Treat or prevent an infection
Treat or prevent anemia, which means you have too few red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to your body. Anemia may be caused by your cancer, your treatment, or other problems.
Treat or prevent side effects, such as nausea or constipation, from other treatments
Help your immune system fight cancer
If you have had surgery, to care for your surgical wound:
Keep your surgical wound clean.
If you are told to change the dressing on your surgical wound, wash your hands before changing the dressing and after disposing of the dressing.
Follow activity restrictions, such as not driving or operating machinery, as recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist, especially if you are taking pain medicines.
Take care of your health. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Eat a healthy diet and try to keep a healthy weight. If you smoke, try to quit. If you want to drink alcohol, ask your healthcare provider how much is safe for you to drink. Learn ways to manage stress. Exercise according to your healthcare provider’s instructions.
Ask your provider if you should get a pneumococcal or flu vaccination.
You may need other treatments for your cancer after you leave the hospital. Treatments may include:
Chemotherapy (anticancer drugs), which uses medicine to kill cancer cells. Different types of chemotherapy may be given in the hospital, outpatient clinic, or at home.
Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation treatment may be done in the hospital or and outpatient clinic.
Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments.
Keep appointments for any routine testing you may need, which may be done to look for signs that the cancer has returned or has spread. Testing may include:
Blood tests to check for certain hormones, proteins, or chemicals that may be high if you have cancer.
Bone X-rays: Pictures of your bones to check for cancer
Chest X-ray: Pictures of the inside of the chest to check for cancer
Computed tomography (CT) scan: A series of X-rays taken from different angles and arranged by a computer to show thin sections of the pelvis (the area below the belly and between the hips) and other areas where the cancer may have spread
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A powerful magnetic field and radio waves are used to take pictures from different angles to show thin sections of the pelvis and other areas where the cancer may have spread
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: A series of detailed pictures that are taken after your healthcare provider injects a small amount of radioactive material into your blood. The scan shows areas where the radioactive material is being absorbed.
Talk with your provider about any questions or concerns you have.
Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:
Trouble emptying your bladder
Weak flow of urine or leaking urine
Blood in urine
Pain or burning when urinating
Swelling in your scrotum or groin
Signs of infection around your surgical wound. These include:
The area around the wound is more red or painful
The wound area is very warm to touch
You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from the wound area
You have a fever of 100.5 degrees F (38.1 degrees C) or higher
You have chills or muscle aches
Trouble having an erection, or pain when semen comes out of the penis (ejaculation)
National Cancer Instituteâ€™s Cancer Information Service Phone: 1-800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237) Web site: http://www.cancer.gov
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Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-12-19 Last reviewed: 2014-10-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Cancer of the Prostate Discharge Information: References
Abeloff, M, Armitage, J, Niederhuber, J, Kastan, M, & McKenna, W. (2014). Abeloff’s clinical oncology [5th ed.]. Retrieved from http://www.mdconsult.com/.