Cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell division. In its advanced stage, the cells of cancer migrate from the organ of origin to another organ and the process is known as metastasis. Metastatic cancer is difficult to treat as compared to non-metastatic cancer. Earlier the diagnosis, more effective would be the treatment with a higher chance of survival. Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers occurring in male. The prostate is a small gland located below the bladder and surrounded by the urethra. The fluid secreted by the prostate gland is mixed with semen and is required for nutrition and protection of sperms. Prostate cancer develops when the cells of prostate gland grow uncontrollably. Although most people do not experience symptoms at the initial stage as it grows very slowly, some have an aggressive form of prostate cancer carrying the significant risk of metastasis. Such condition required immediate medical intervention and treatment. Various treatment options are available for prostate cancer including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, medications, and surgery.
South Korea, because of its high-tech devices that involve the use of super-computers, huge infrastructure, modern technological equipment, and experienced healthcare professionals is capable of successfully treating prostate cancer. Many hospitals in South Korea are performing prostate cancer treatment with a high success rate. The medical tourists visiting this country avails the accessibility of innovative treatment procedures as South Korea has been ranked 6th in the world in terms of performing clinical trials on new treatments. South Korea has been ranked one of the best innovative countries of the world and the medical technology is complemented with the high-end technologies of companies like Samsung and LG.
The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system, which makes fluid that forms an essential part of the semen. Prostate cancer starts when cells of the prostate glands begin to grow abnormally
Prostate cancer is one of the leading cancers in men above the age of 60. In most of the cases, it is slow growing and may even go undetected and do not cause any problem. However, in some cases, it could be aggressive and cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body (metastatic prostate cancer)
Prostate cancer is a very slow growing disease and starts with tiny alterations in the shape and size of the prostate gland cells. The prostate cancer risk increases with age and it is rarely observed before the age of 40. That is the main reason why many men die of old age, without ever knowing that they had prostate cancer.
There is no direct prostate cancer causes. However, there are some factors that can increase the risk of prostate cancer, including the following:
Usually, prostate cancer means the cancer of prostate gland cells called prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). Almost all the prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas, but there are some other types of prostate cancer as well, including the following:
Based on how abnormal the patterns of cancer cells look, prostate cancers are classified as:
There are no warning signs of prostate cancer. The symptoms of metastatic prostate cancer usually appear first in the region that the cancer cells have invaded.
After cancer causes the prostate gland to swell, the following signs of prostate cancer may be experienced:
In prostate cancer stages, the following symptoms may also be there:
Treatment for prostate cancer can be divided into early stage and advanced stage. Your doctor will choose the best suitable treatment for you, depending on the stage and classification of prostate cancer, your age, and overall health status. Although, your feelings, expected lifespan, and your opinion will play a major role in choosing the right kind of treatment.
The most common treatment options for prostate cancer include the following:
Watchful waiting or active surveillance
No immediate treatment is carried out, but the patient is followed up at regular intervals to see the progression of the disease. This method is used in elderly patients with short life expectancy and in case of an early disease.
The main type of prostate surgery is called radical prostatectomy. In this, cancerous tissues are removed by a surgical operation. A long cut in the abdomen is needed in this surgery, depending on the extent and stage of cancer.
However, a keyhole surgery for prostate cancer using a laparoscope or robot is also available. These treatments have good success rates but may result in certain long-term side effects such as sexual dysfunction, narrowing of the urethra, and urinary incontinence.
High-intensity beams are used in this treatment to destroy the cancer cells in the prostate. Radiotherapy can be administered via needles implanted into the prostate, under ultrasound guidance or as an external beam. Radiotherapy can be used after surgery if the resection of cancer tissue has not been completed.
There are two types of radiotherapy for prostate cancer:
In this, the radiation beams are shaped so that the region where they overlap is as close to the same shape as the organ that requires treatment. It minimizes healthy tissue exposure to radiation.
In this, the beams with variable intensity are used. It is an advanced form of conformal radiotherapy. It is usually delivered with the help of a computer-controlled linear accelerator.
Hormone therapy involves the use of medications that suppress testosterone levels. They are used as primary treatment and in advanced cases or Stage 4 prostate cancer.
Chemotherapy is a kind of advance drug treatment in which strong medications are used to kill the cancer cells and prevent it from spreading. It is used when the prostate cancer is not controlled by hormonal treatment. Chemotherapy is selected only for treatment of Stage 4 prostate cancer and when the patient can cope with it.
This treatment uses extremely cold temperatures to freeze and destroy cancer tissues in the prostate. Cryotherapy is the best option for treating recurrent prostate cancer, especially if initial radiation therapy did not kill enough cancer cells. The surgeon inserts an ultra-thin metal probe or needle into the prostate gland, from which a freezing liquid, such as liquid nitrogen or more commonly, argon gas, is infused into the prostate gland.
Some treatments such as radiofrequency and high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) are used to treat early prostate cancer or when the patient is not fit for a major surgery.
Like other cancers, the specific cause of Prostate cancer is not known, Due to unknown reasons, the mutation in the DNA of the cells takes place leading to uncontrolled growth. However, some of the factors significantly increase the risk of prostate cancer. These factors are:
1) Genetics: Presence of abnormal genes increases the risk of cancer. Genes have information stored in them. Mutation deletes some of the information leading to abnormal behavior by the cells.
2) Exposure to radiations or chemicals: Prolong exposure to radiations or chemicals increases the risk of cancer.
3) Inflammation in Prostate: Prolonged Prostatitis, inflammation of the prostate gland, increases the risk of Prostate cancer.
4) Altered level of male hormone: Increase in the level of testosterone increases the growth of the prostate gland and overgrowth increases the risk of cancer.
5) Age: As age increases, the chances of developing prostate cancer increases.
The cost of prostate cancer treatment in South Korea varies with the type of treatment required by the patient. The cost of treatment in South Korea is less as compared to the cost in countries like US, Canada, Israel, and Germany. Cost of open prostatectomy surgery is about $15000 while the cost of robotic surgery is about $18000 to $19000. The radiation therapy per session is about $5000 while the cost of chemotherapy per session is $2000. The cost of treatment within South Korea considerably varies and depend upon various factors. Hospital infrastructure, type of technology, place in which hospital is situated, the experience of the doctor and the success rate of the hospital for treating prostate cancer significantly impacts the cost of treatment. Further, stay in hospital after treatment, and follow-up visit charges also impact the cost.
South Korea, in the healthcare sector, is one of the most advanced countries in the world. The diagnosis and treatment of diseases are done though ultra-modern technologies, with high accuracy and precision. Various types of surgeries complimented with minimally invasive procedures, are available in South Korea for treating the patient suffering from prostate cancer:
a) Open Radical Prostatectomy
b) Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy
c) Robot-assisted Radical Prostatectomy
Radical prostatectomy is further subdivided into Radical retropubic prostatectomy and Radical perineal prostatectomy.
Prostatectomy for prostate cancer is major surgery and is often performed under general anesthesia. The surgery takes about 2-3 hours. The patient has to stay in the hospital for 2-3 days to evaluate the condition and any other complication. A catheter is attached to the body and remains for a few days to a few weeks depending upon the speed of recovery of the urethra. The normal process of urination and a sexual activity would resume after a few months. Surgical pain is controlled by pain-relieving medications. Some patients may have constipation which can be managed by medicines. Follow up visits and further monitoring is essential to ensure that cancer does not recur.
1) Gangnam Severance Hospital, Seoul
2) Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul
3) Samsung Medical Center, Seoul
4) Gachon University Gil Medical Center, Incheon
5) Asan Medical Center, Seoul
6) Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, Seoul
Following are some of the top Prostate Cancer Surgeons in South Korea:
1) Dr. Eunsik Lee, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul
2) Dr. Hyeon Hoe Kim, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul
3) Dr. Koon Ho Rha, Gangnam Severance Hospital, Seoul
4) Dr. Ji Youl Lee, Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, Seoul
5) Dr. Hong Sung Hoo, Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, Seoul
6) Dr. Hanjong Ahn, Asan Medical Center, Seoul
7) Dr. Seong Soo Jeon, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul
The hospitals in South Korea follow the healthcare standards set by Commission International (JCI) and Korea Institute for Healthcare Accreditation (KOHIA). There are 29 JCI accredited hospitals in South Korea and the organization has a strong quality framework that the accredited hospitals need to follow. KOIHA evaluates a healthcare facility based on parameters, such as performance management, administrative management and quality of patient care. The standards set by JCI and KOIHA require strict monitoring of all critical events to ensure that the quality of healthcare is as per the international standards.
South Korea is considered one of the top destinations for medical tourists with superior infrastructure and most advanced medical technologies. Populated with top-quality multispeciality hospitals, South Korea produces good doctors in the world who have deep expertise in their specialty area and strive to provide better patient experience through quality treatment. Proving quality care at an affordable cost, South Korea is declared most innovative in healthcare practices which helps the country to offer a wide range of procedures with excellent results. Some other factors which contribute to the growing popularity of South Korea in medical tourism, are a wide range of food options, scenic value, affordable accommodation, visa availability, transportation facilities, and language assistance.
The well-trained and highly skilled doctors in South Korea use their deep expertise in performing various procedures with a high success rate. Having received quality education at reputed institutions and with decades of rigorous training, the doctors have reported high success rates. The doctors strictly adhere to international standards and medical protocols in order to ensure quality treatment and patient safety. The doctors have hands-on experience in preventative medicine which helps prevent various complications.
You should check with the concerned authority for any extra documents required because every country has its own documentation policies. Make a list of all the documents you might need in South Korea in order to make sure that you do not miss any of them. Travel insurance paper, currency/forex card, and international SIM card are some other documents you may need when traveling to another country. When you are traveling to South Korea for medical treatment, you should carry essential documents like test reports, records, doctor referral notes, medical History, passport copies, residence/ driver’s license/ bank statement/ details of Health insurance.
Plastic surgery has become South Korea’s specialty and some of the popular procedures available in South Korea are:
. South Korea has reported the highest per capita rate of plastic surgery, according to a recent survey and the country is flocked with a high number of cosmetic clinics. Cancer treatment, organ transplant, cardiovascular surgeries and hip and shoulder replacement are some other procedures that have received worldwide recognition in South Korea. South Korea has made landmark achievements in cancer treatment and some advanced techniques used to remove cancer cells are robotic surgeries and proton therapies.
The most popular cities that are preferred by medical tourists in South Korea are Seoul, Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Cheonan, and Cheonan. There are several factors that help make these cities popular for seeking treatment, such as top-notch hospitals, superior infrastructure, and highly experienced doctors. These cities have gained popularity in medical tourism due to several other reasons like transportation facilities, cheap accommodation, more food options, language assistance. Seoul has the world’s highest per-capita rate of plastic surgeries and Gangnam district boasts some 500 cosmetic and aesthetic centers.
The process of obtaining a medical visa in South Korea is very stringent and is done under the strict supervision of the South Korean embassy. A candidate has to produce medical records citing medical reasons and the referral certificate signed by the registered medical expert. A medical dependent visa is given to people who are accompanying the patient traveling to South Korea for medical treatment. Relevant documents explaining the details of the treatment, signed by the concerned hospitals or doctors, a declaration from the patient or family member is also required.
South Korea is growing as a very popular medical tourism destination with many multispecialty hospitals in the world, such as:
Equipped with modern equipment and the latest medical technologies, the multispecialty hospitals in South Korea are backed by the modern infrastructure to provide world-class treatment. With quality at the core, the hospitals dedicatedly follow quality standards and medical protocols in order to provide safe and quality medical care. With a wide range of specialities, the hospitals have reported high success rates with the help of highly-experienced doctors who are capable of performing even the most complex surgeries with high accuracy and precision.
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