Prostate Problem Guide
The Current State Of Prostate Cancer Research
Although prostate cancer is one of the commonest forms of cancer in men, and is currently responsible for the deaths of over 30,000 men every year in the United States alone, a reluctance on the part of many men to visit their doctor and to talk about anything to do with sex or their sexual organs has meant that, until recently, prostate cancer has been given something of a low profile.
Today, however, the deaths in the past few years of a number of well known personalities from prostate cancer, such as Don Ameche, Telly Savalas and Frank Zappa and the willingness of others, like General Norman Schwarzkopf, to openly talk about their fight against the disease has done much to raise the profile of prostate cancer and thus to increase prostate cancer research dramatically.
Today a great deal of prostate cancer research is being carried out into the causes, prevention and treatment of the disease and the results of this research, combined with greater public awareness, are being seen as the annual death rate is slowly beginning to fall.
Unfortunately far too many cases of prostate cancer are still not being detected until the disease is well established and has often started to spread into surrounding tissue, bone and into the lymphatic system. At this point a common form of treatment is hormone therapy designed principally to slow the spread of the disease, improve the patient's quality of life and increase his survival time. While hormone treatment is effective to some degree it is felt that much more can be done in this area and so a great deal of current prostate cancer research is aimed at drug treatment with a number of drugs currently under test and development.
Prostate cancer research is also being focused particularly on the early diagnosis of the disease, as treatment is relatively simple and extremely effective if prostate cancer is caught early and is still confined to the outer layer of the prostate gland.
One of the standard diagnostic tests being used today is the PSA test which looks for the presence of a protein within the bloodstream and determines the health of the prostate gland based upon the blood concentration of this protein.
The PSA is a far from a perfect test at this point and there is considerable debate about just how useful it is and when, and in what circumstances, it should be used. In particular, there is a great deal of disagreement about its use as a screening tool.
A number of leading researcher are focusing their attention on the problems of screening and on the PSA test in particular and progress being made by institutions such as the John Hopkins University Medical School are especially encouraging.
While public awareness is an extremely important factor in combating prostate cancer, the reduction in the number of deaths from this disease will only to be seen as long as prostate cancer research continues and better and faster ways are found to detect the disease at an early stage in its development so that it can be treated with relative ease.