In Canada, the most common cancer for men is prostate cancer. It is estimated that 25,500 will be diagnosed this year. It is also estimated that 4,300 men will die of prostate cancer this year, since it is the third leading cause of death among cancers.
There are several treatment options available for low and intermediate risk cancers. Most have very high survival rates, but the side effects can vary greatly. The best prostate cancer treatments will depend on the age and health of the patient, the stage of the prostate cancer and whether it is localized. The risk of getting prostate cancer increases with age. Regular screenings should be done for men over the age of 50. However, if there is a history of prostate cancer in the family, it may be wise to start screening as early as 40 years old.
Surgery, known as radical prostatectomy, is one of the most radical treatments as it removes the entire prostate. Urological surgeons will usually try to do nerve sparing surgery since nerves around the prostate can be damaged during surgery. The nerve damage can cause impotence or erectile dysfunction, but urinary incontinence can also occur after surgery. There are other options including chemotherapy, hormone and radiation therapy.
An alternative form of prostate cancer treatment that has a similar rate of recovery to surgery but fewer side effects is HIFU – High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. This non-invasive treatment uses an ultrasound probe as a medical device piloted by a computer. The patient is given a spinal or epidural anesthetic before the 2-2 ½ hour treatment. High intensity ultrasound waves are delivered through the rectal wall targeting the cancerous tumors on the prostate without damaging surrounding tissues. The focused ultrasound waves produce intense heat which destroys the cancer.
Toronto has the best HIFU cancer treatment center, with top urologists performing the procedure. The Maple Leaf HIFU clinic was the first in North America and has done more successful procedures than any other Canadian clinic. The procedure is not available in the United States, so many Americans make the journey to Toronto for treatment. The www.HIFU.ca website has a wealth of information on prostate cancer and research regarding treatments and HIFU success rates.