Prostate cancer is one of the fatal diseases that are claiming the lives of millions of men every year. Ironically, prostate cancer is possibly the most widespread cancer among men aged above 65 years. Although this cancer has been considered as an illness of old men, middle-aged men have also become victims. The chances of having prostate cancer can be influenced by age, race, diet, and family history. Treating prostate cancer depends on the extent at which the disease has spread to different areas of the body. While factors that influence the spread of prostate cancer are difficult to control, specialists are advising men to avoid red meat and diets rich in dairy products. This study will focus on the health issues surrounding prostate cancer, challenges in health care delivery, and interventions to enhance the health care outcomes.
Population and Health Issues Surrounding Prostate Cancer
Many men believe that their health is good when they are capable of enjoying life’s pleasures, such as best foods, sex, attraction, and siring of children. However, at around midlife, things may start to change and life’s pleasures are no more enjoyable. For many men, sexual function begins to decline while to others, urinary difficulties start to appear. A large number of men do not have an idea that their bodies incorporate prostate gland until a diagnosis proves that they are suffering from prostate disease. According to Schiller (2012), the prostate is a gland inside the male reproductive system, which manufactures much of the fluid that creates the semen (p. 1). The function of prostate is controlled by testosterone.
Prostate cancer is among the major cancer illnesses that affect men, especially in the US. Each year, more than 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer are reported in the US while the number of people who died from the diseases is beyond 30, 000 (Schiller, 2012, p. 1). The most affected group is the African-American men, who are believed to hold the highest frequency of the disease in the world while the rest of the world has recorded few cases of the disease.
Prostate cancer does not elicit any symptoms to many men, as it is a slow-growing tumor. Most victims of prostate cancer usually die of other reasons. The disease becomes dangerous only when it starts to stretch outside the prostate. However, some of the symptoms that can necessitate doctor’s intervention include:
- The need to urinate frequently, particularly at night
- The need to dash to the toilet to release even a single drop of urine
- Difficulties in releasing urine
- Weak flow of urine
- Feeling as if the bladder has not release all the urine
- Pain when releasing urine
What causes prostate cancer is not known in totality, but experts claimed that diet contributes vastly in it cause. Prostate cancer is primarily found in men who are beyond the age of 65 years. Men, who take excessive amounts of fat, especially from red meat, are likely to fall into the risks of getting prostate cancer. Fats facilitate the manufacture of testosterone, which accelerates the development of prostate cancer. According to Schiller (2010), men whose families have a history of prostate cancer tend to be more vulnerable to prostate cancer than the general population (p. 3).
Prostate cancer can be treated after medical specialists determine whether the disease is localized or advanced. Being localized means the disease has only affected the prostate while advanced prostate cancer has already spread beyond prostate. For a localized prostate cancer, patients and providers can opt to undertake a watchful waiting, radiation therapy, active surveillance, or radical prostatectomy (Cross, Ritter, & Reding, 2012, p. 98). Testing prostate cancer using the prostate specific antigen (PSA) has not succeeded in determining whether early detection can help to save lives. Thus, treatment of cancer takes several combinations of treatments.
Health Care Delivery Issues
Taking care of a person suffering from prostate cancer can be quite challenging while testing for cancer may be too hazardous. Decisions to undertake screening tests can sometimes be risky. Thus, patients should consult the doctor before opting for any screen test. Finding prostate cancer is not a guarantee that an individual will live longer. Screening may not be useful if cancer has already attacked other areas outside the prostate. Follow-up tests can be performed to diagnose cancer. However, health issues may arise when a patient is diagnosed with the disease.
Recent research studies have pointed out the role of social-cultural factors in influencing the health care outcomes. These factors include lack of access to health care facilities, lack of insurance coverage and information about the disease, low levels of awareness of how to screen prostate cancer, fear, distrust, low health literacy, and inadequate communication from health care providers (Rivers et al, 2012, p. 547). Most men who have undergone the diagnosis come across various challenges, which include the possibility of biochemical malfunction, functional harm, as well as social constraints. These challenges affect their quality of life. Long-term treatment of prostate cancer may lead to sexual dysfunction, urinary irritation, weariness, and bowel problems.
Just like other cancers, prostate cancer treatment affects the patient, the caregiver, as well as family members. According to Rivers et al (2012), the survivor may find it hard to discuss with the caregiver information on illness, sexual intimacy, and change in family tasks and responsibilities (p. 547). These issues may affect the management and treatment of the disease on the caregiver’s side to an extent of having effects on his/her family and friends. A research carried out in Harvard Medical School between 1979 and 2004 showed that the rate of suicide and death from heart attack and stroke rose during the first months after diagnosis (Katz, 2011, p. 5).
The most persistent psychosocial theme among prostate cancer survivors and their families is communication barrier. Majority survivors claimed that they rarely discuss issues related to diagnosis and treatment of the disease with their spouses. Some chose to remain far from their spouses to avoid this discussion. Spouses claimed that their husbands are always reluctant to discuss about the suffering with them. Although they claimed to understand the changes in sexual performance in their husbands, they asserted that they were clueless about how they felt.
Interventions to Improve Health Care Outcomes
The rate by which prostate cancer is attacking men is quite high, which necessitates a patient-focused interventions. Interventions are fundamental if they recognize the patients as active contributors in the endeavor to search for effective and safe healthcare practices. Patients can contribute towards eliminating prostate cancer by accepting diagnosis, preventing occurrence of the disease, as well as choosing the most effective form of treatment under the guide of health professionals. Healthcare professionals can monitor patients regularly to identify the best intervention methods to apply. Health literacy is also essential to patient engagement, as patients have to comprehend basic health information about prostate cancer to make effective health decisions. The media can contribute hugely in enhancing awareness in patients.
Researchers have contributed vastly in offering solutions to prostate cancer. A new study on prostate cancer has proved that radiation therapy can prolong the lives of prostate cancer victims who have already reached the most advanced stage. According to O’Connor (2013), the treatment involves an isotope of radium, which focuses only on cancer cells that have extended up to the bones. The radium connects with minerals in the bones and conveys radiation that wipes out cancer cells without causing damage to immediate tissues. The drug has been permitted by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), which allowed it to be sold under the name “Xofigo.” Healthcare professionals have to invent on new ways of dealing with the disease in order to increase the chances of survival.
Prostate cancer has become one of the lethal diseases that have claimed lives of many men, particularly African-Americans. Many men do not know that they suffer from prostate cancer until they start losing taste of life pleasures. Prostate cancer gradually develops in the body, and its symptoms only appear when the disease has spread beyond the prostate glands. Several methods exist to treat the disease, but they do not guarantee success. Individuals are advised to seek medical attention if they experience the urge to urinate frequently, particularly at night, difficulty in passing urine, weak flow of urine, and pain when releasing urine. Patient-focused intervention can assist in managing the health care outcomes through improving the health literacy while searching for effective forms of treatment. Spouses should encourage their husbands to communicate their feelings, as many men become stressed once they discover they are suffering from prostate cancer.
Cross, D. S., Ritter, M., & Reding, D. J. (2012). Historical Prostate Cancer Screening and Treatment Outcomes from a Single Institution. Clinical Medicine & Research, 10(3), 97-105. doi:10.3121/cmr.2011.1042
Katz, A. E. (2011). The definitive guide to prostate cancer: Everything you need to know about conventional and integrative therapies. New York, NY: Rodale.
O’Connor, A. (2013, July 17). New Radiation Therapy Prolongs Prostate Cancer Survival. The New York Times.
Rivers, B. M., August, E. M., Quinn, G. P., Gwede, C. K., Pow-sang, J., Green, B. L., & Jacobsen, P. B. (2012). Understanding the psychosocial issues of African-American couples surviving prostate cancer. Journal of Cancer Education, 27(3), 546-58. doi0-1
Schiller, J. (2010). Prostate cancer. North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace.