Prostate Cancer Changes Life
Career challenges and opportunities come at various points of our lives. As children, we are guided by our parents, taught by our teachers, and influenced by our friends. We plan our future. Our parents hope it is a better life than the one they had. We graduate, get a job, start a career, marry, and settle down. Nothing can stop us now. We seem to have the best of everything.
Each of us is an adult learner in a life long journey. One just needs to be open and receptive to new opportunities so as not to miss the challenges presented to us. One such opportunity can come from a life threatening illness such as the â€œBig C â€œ, the street term for cancer.
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Moreover, he is correct. No one can tell you what to do, but a decision needs to be made. This is one decision you must make entirely alone. What should you do, or what can you do? There are things to do, people to see, and plans to make. We decide that we need more data in order to make an informed decision. What is this thing called prostate cancer anyway?
We read, we ask, we listen, we experience, and ultimately we learn. It is one year later and now it is my opportunity to follow a career interest in teaching, so that others may learn from my own experience. Prostate cancer treatment options are many and varied. There are probable risks and possible side effects. Pick your treatment or do nothing, it is your choice.
Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs
The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system about the size of a walnut. It is found below the bladder and in front of the rectum (National Cancer Institute).
How do you know something is wrong? What are the symptoms? Unfortunately, the cause of prostate cancer is unknown. A tumor develops inside the gland; eventually the tumor can grow and press against the surrounding tissue, perhaps blocking the flow of urine. The male hormone testosterone fuels the growth of the tumor, causing the cancer to spread. If unchecked, the cancer can spread to nearby lymph nodes, or bones or major organs (American Cancer Society).
Symptoms may not occur for many years. However when they do appear, the disease may have spread beyond the prostate. Some of these symptoms deal with urination. It could be too frequent or not enough; it could be hard to start or difficult to hold back; it may be weak or uninterrupted; there could be pain. Therefore, what might be a symptom for one man may not affect the next man. Each person is unique and the symptoms will vary from man to man
Can these symptoms mean something else too? Yes, they can. These symptoms may signify a urinary track infection (UTI) or a benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). These are not cancer. So, how do you know the difference? You do not know the difference. This is why annual exams with your doctor are so important.
First, go to your primary care physician (PCP) for a complete check-up. He or she will perform a routine DRE, which is the Digital Rectal Exam. The prostate gland can easily felt by the doctor. The gland should be soft, round, and symmetrical. A hard or lumpy prostate is a warning sign of cancer. Strike One (American Cancer Society).
Second, a simple blood test will detect the amount of prostate specific antigen, known as the PSA, created by the prostate. The PSA should be very close to zero, especially for men younger than 50 years old. The normal range is a score of four to 10. An elevated PSA count is another warning sign of cancer. Strike Two. (American Cancer Society).
Taken separately, the screening tests cannot absolutely detect the presence of cancer. Taken together, however, it is an...