What is prostate cancer? Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland grow out of control.
Some prostate cancers can grow and spread quickly but most grow slowly. There are often no early prostate cancer symptoms, but some men have urinary symptoms and discomfort. Prostate cancer treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy, cryotherapy, hormonal therapy, and/or radiation. In some instances, doctors recommend “watchful waiting.”
All men are at risk for developing prostate cancer. Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men.
About one man in nine will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, but only one in 41 will die of this disease. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
Factors, such as age, race, and family history that may contribute to the risk:
- The Gleason Score (GS) indicates the tendency for rapid growth, recurrence or metastasis of prostate cancer, with two being the least worrisome and scores of eight to 10 being the most aggressive. Think of the stage as a car’s odometer and the Gleason Score as its speedometer. Generally, the lower the stage, the more likely that treatment will succeed with no recurrence of cancer.
- The PSA is a blood test for prostate cancer.
- A bone scan is sometimes performed to determine if the cancer has metastasized, that is, spread distantly from its origin.
- The extent to which prostate cancer has spread is categorized by staging, usually determined by examination, ultrasound or MRI. However, examining tissue removed by surgery gives a more definitive picture of the stage of the cancer.
- Treatments include Surgery (prostatectomy), Chemotherapy, Radiation; external beam or implants, Watchful Waiting, Hormonal Therapy.
Here is a case study:
Fred, 56 years old
Seeking $3 million of permanent coverage
- Was told by his internist almost six years ago that his PSA was moderately elevated.
- A biopsy showed prostate cancer.
- After weighing the relative treatment risks and benefits, Fred decided on surgery. Cancer was present in two areas within one side of the prostate.
- His Gleason Score was 6.
At a follow-up exam two months ago, Fred had no major symptoms and his PSA was so low that it was immeasurable.
Having been treated several years ago for his early-stage, moderately aggressive cancer and showing no signs of recurrence, Fred could qualify for a life policy at Standard rates.
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