Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller announced Thursday he is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. Miller, a Democrat who has served as Senate president since 1987, made the announcement while addressing a floor session of the Senate. Miller said he was diagnosed Dec. 27.
Yes. The vast majority of prostate cancers are adenocarinomas, which form from gland tissue in the prostate. Rarer forms include sarcomas, small cell carcinomas, neuroendocrine tumors and transitional cell carcinomas.
While early prostate cancer does not often cause symptoms, more advanced cancers can cause symptoms including problems urinating, blood in urine or semen, erectile dysfunction, pain in the other areas of the body if the cancer has spread, weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or loss of bladder or bowel control.
How is it diagnosed?
The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exams are used to screen for prostate cancer. Doctors must confirm the presence of cancer with a prostate biopsy.
Dr. Sanford J. Siegel, chairman of Chesapeake Urology, said early diagnosis is key.
“If you can diagnose this disease early you can save lives,” said Siegel, who treats patients with prostate cancer and was also diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer about a year ago.
There are four main stages of prostate cancer (I through IV), which are further broken down by letter grades. Doctors determine the stage of cancer based on factors including the extent of the main tumor, whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body, the PSA level at the time of diagnosis and the “Gleason score” or grade group, which is based on how abnormal the tissue appears under a microscope.
What is the survival rate?
About one in 41 men diagnosed with prostate cancer die from it, according to the American Cancer Society, which says it is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men behind lung cancer. The organization estimates 31,620 men will die from prostate cancer in 2019. African-American men are more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as their white counterparts, according to the cancer society.
Survival rates vary by the stage of cancer. For prostate cancers that are local — which have not spread to other areas of the body — the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent, meaning nearly all men diagnosed will live for at least five years, according to the American Cancer Society. Prostate cancers in the regional stage — in which the cancer has spread to nearby areas — also carry a five-year survival rate of nearly 100 percent. Distant stage prostate cancers, which have spread to lymph nodes, bones or other organs, have a five-year survival rate of about 29 percent, the cancer society reports.
Overall, the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 99 percent, the 10-year survival rate is 98 percent and the 15-year survival rate is 96 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.
Emotion and politics cloud judgment in prostate cancer screening.
What are the treatment options?
Treatments can vary depending on the aggressiveness of the tumor, age of the patient and other factors. Options include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, radical surgery to remove the prostate, high-intensity focused ultrasound and radiation. For less aggressive forms of prostate cancer, many doctors recommend active surveillance — monitoring slow-growing tumors instead of treating them.
Researchers are looking to learn more about which patients should have prostate biopsies based on PSA screenings; genetic mutations linked to prostate cancer; foods that can lower risk of developing prostate cancer; and new diagnostic techniques including color Doppler ultrasounds.