It is that time of year again when you see men proudly growing moustaches, from the handlebar to the horseshoe. And while it is great that in 2015 over 5 million people worldwide took part in Movember, raising money and awareness for men's health issues, on receiving a diagnosis men are not always clear on the next step and all the treatment options open to them. And this is where ALIVIA come in and their motto: 'Knowledge is Power'.
In the UK alone over 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, with 10,800 men dying from the illness- that's one every hour. With this in mind, ALIVIA, the disruptive health start up that I've worked with for over 2 years, are on a mission to revolutionise the UK's approach to health and to encourage people to seek second opinions post diagnosis if they feel they need to and have put together a 'must know' guide for Prostate Cancer.
The 'Essential Movember Guide to Prostate Cancer Beating Treatments' summarises the spectrum of options, from the traditional to the innovative and emerging in prostate cancer treatment. With 1 in 8 men getting prostate cancer in their lifetime, with stats increasing to 1 in 4 for black men or men of mixed race, ALIVIA feels passionately that men of all ages are clued up about all treatments available to them. With the right treatment the survival for prostate cancer is promising. Current figures show that 84% of men are predicted to survive the disease for ten years or more.
TREATMENTS FOR LOCAL PROSTATE CANCER INCLUDE:
If your cancer has remained solely within the prostate, or sometimes if it has only spread to areas outside of the prostate, a surgical procedure called a radical prostatectomy may be recommended. This option involves the complete removal of the prostate and seminal vesicles in an attempt to remove the cancer from the body and stop it spreading any further. More likely recommended for younger patients, the surgery can also produce side effects including impotence in around 70% of men who undergo the procedure.
The two most common treatments involving radiation include external radiotherapy and brachytherapy. Radiotherapy, involves X-ray beams being directed towards the prostate from outside of the body that damages the cancer cells and stops them from growing and spreading. Depending on the extent of your cancer, permanent seed brachytherapy is another option. This involves tiny radioactive seeds being implanted into your prostate, mediating low-dose permanent irradiation, and similarly to the radiotherapy, destroying the cancer cells.
THERAPY OF LOCALLY ADVANCED CANCER INCLUDES:
Whilst it won't cure prostate cancer on its own, hormone therapy can reduce the size and growth of the cancer by removing testosterone as a 'food source'. In cases of cancer, testosterone can lead to tumour growth and so by removing testosterone from the blood it reduces its effects anywhere the cancer is in the body.
Hormonal Treatment Combined with Chemotherapy
This strategy is usually considered as second line therapy being more effective, however more aggressive. Treatment includes both androgen deprivation and cytostatic influence that reduces cell proliferation. As chemotherapy of any cancer type, this treatment is frequently associated with side-effects.
NEW SCIENTIFIC TREATMENTS
The future of prostate cancer treatment is aiming far beyond the current standard of care. New drug combinations and experimental procedures are often regarded as an uncertain choice but it is hard to deny the effects that they can have on patient care.
Therapy of CRPC (Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer)
Sometimes the prostate cancer cells become independent to hormonal stimulation and tumour growths progressively during therapy due to, for example, specific single or combined genetic alterations.
Recently several new drugs have been developed and are being introduced in clinical practice: Zytiga, Xofigo and Combination Therapies. Another important pioneering treatment comes under the name 'Proton Beam Therapy' (PBT). This method uses sub-atomic particles which are fired at the prostate, killing the cancer cells. However, unlike conventional methods, the protons stop once they reach the prostate meaning that the surrounding healthy areas are undamaged which is a significant benefit. Currently not available through the NHS, selected patients can access this treatment abroad. In popular destinations for PBT patients, such as the US, therapy can cost up to £100,000, whilst European countries can offer this treatment for around £20,000 with the potential to be reimbursed through European directives regarding international healthcare.
My colleague, ALIVIA's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Vidar Arnulf says, 'With the speed of research growth in this area of oncology, there are new treatment options developed on a regular basis for men diagnosed with prostate and testicular cancer. At Alivia, we are constantly monitoring world leading research and feel strongly that men are made aware of all the various treatment options to give them the best chance of recovery.'
Early diagnosis is key and ensuring men are fully informed about the many effective treatment options out there, and not being afraid to ask for a second opinion.