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An overview of prostate cancer treatments

Unlike women who readily discuss breast cancer, men often find it difficult to discuss the issue of their prostate. Perhaps the association that a prostate problem has with a decrease in sexual prowess has led it to be such a taboo topic.

Medication for prostate enlargement works by relieving symptoms related to free flow of urine. Prostate cancer, however, is a serious condition, which is traditionally treated with radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. There are new treatments that are being researched, and some of the areas in which significant progress has been made are genetics, ultrasound and radio frequency ablation.

A kind of biological assay called DNA Microarray (also known as a gene or genome chip, DNA chip, or gene array) has made it possible to study thousands of DNA at the same time.  Scientists are involved in understanding the genetic changes brought about by prostate cancer. An exciting development in this field is that there are strong indications that a variant of DNA (inherited only from the mother) containing enzymes responsible for producing energy might be an important risk factor for those who inherit it.

A product of one gene has also been identified, which appears more often in advanced stages than in early stages of prostate cancer. Once the links between genes and risk factors or aggressiveness of prostate cancer are confirmed beyond doubt it will become easier to develop newer drugs for halting malignancy.

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Therapy has gained popularity in Europe for treating early stages of prostate cancer. It employs highly focused ultrasonic beams to kill cancer cells with heat. However, this mode of treatment is not commonly used in the United States yet.

Another treatment, known as radio frequency ablation, that has been in use for treating cancer in organs like the liver is now being tried to treat prostate cancer that has spread to a bone. This method involves guiding a metal probe with the aid of computed tomography into the affected area and destroying the tumor with high frequency current.

Research is also being carried out to study the role of natural foods and herbs for curbing prostate enlargement in preventing prostate cancer. The development of potent compounds related to lycopene, (carotenoid that makes tomatoes red) isoflavones, (strong antioxidants found in nuts and alfalfa) is also in progress for effective prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.

New and relatively safer treatments for prostate cancer may still be in their developmental stages but the progress made till now appears to be very encouraging. Till the time a safe and sure cure is found, men can use alternative remedies like changing unhealthy dietary habits, frequent exercising and yoga to keep their prostate healthy.

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