Everything You Need to Know About Prostate Cancer
Not all Cancer is Pink!!
WHAT IS PROSTATE CANCER?
A common type of cancer in men, Prostate Cancer is a kind of cancer that develops in the prostate gland, a walnut-sized gland located just under the bladder, preceding the rectum and surrounding the urethra – the tube that carries urine out of the bladder. Another primary function of this gland is to produce semen, a fluid that protects and enriches the sperm. Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal cells develop in the prostate and continue to proliferate in an unrestricted manner.
Many prostate cancers grow slowly, are confined to the prostate gland and may need minimal or even no treatment, while other types are aggressive and can spread quickly to nearby or distant parts of the body.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF PROSTATE CANCER?
Early prostate cancer seldom causes symptoms and even when prostate cancer is advanced at the time of diagnosis, there may be no symptoms or symptoms may differ from person to person.
Some of the advanced prostate cancer signs may comprise of –
- Weak, frequent or interrupted flow of urine
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Low back pain, inner thigh or perineal pain or stiffness
- Pain or burning sensation while urinating
- Painful ejaculation
- Shortness of breath, feeling very tired, an accelerated heartbeat, dizziness, or pale skin caused by anemia
- Difficulty getting or sustaining an erection
- Fecal (bowel) incontinence
- Unexpected weight loss etc.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES AND WHO IS AT RISK?
Like all types of cancer, it is unclear what exactly causes prostate cancer but there are certain risk factors that have been linked with this type of cancer, including –
Prostate cancer is an age-dependent disease and a primary risk factor, which means the chance of developing it increases with age. This disease occurs most often in men older than age 50 and risk increases further in men over 65.
Prostate cancer appears to run in some families. If you have a close family member, such as a father or brother down with this sort of cancer, you’re 2 to 3 times more likely to develop prostate cancer than other men. The risk increases again if more than one male relative has it.
RACE AND ETHNICITY
For reasons not yet known, black men are at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer than men of other races. In Black people, prostate cancer is also more likely to be aggressive or advanced and more probable to be diagnosed at a later stage.
Genes are inherited (from parents to children) and therefore some changes in the genes that increase the risk of developing cancer may be inherited.
Men with diets high in fat or dairy and low in fruits and vegetables have a higher risk of prostate cancer. Eating a lot of processed food or high fat meat can also increase the risk of developing this cancer.
People who are obese may have a higher risk of prostate cancer in comparison to people having a healthy weight. Obese men who are diagnosed with it may be more likely to have an advanced cancer and more likely to return after initial treatment.
Other factors, such as sedentary lifestyle, smoking and dietary, hormonal, and environmental influences may also increase the chances of developing the condition.
DETECTION AND DIAGNOSIS
In order to reach a diagnosis for prostate cancer, certain tests and screenings are the effective way. Common diagnostics tests include –
PROSTATE-SPECIFIC ANTIGEN (PSA) BLOOD TEST
This is one of the first tests done in men who have symptoms of prostate cancer. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland that can be detected in the blood. The amount of PSA levels can be tested to check for the cancer. A high or rising PSA level may mean there's cancer but a PSA test by itself doesn’t mean that the person has cancer.
DIGITAL RECTAL EXAMINATION (DRE)
DRE involves the doctor placing a lubricated gloved finger into the rectum. Through the wall of the rectum the doctor can feel the prostate gland and check for signs of any abnormalities or enlargement. If any irregularity is found the doctor may recommend a biopsy. This test may be included in screening even though it is less effective than a PSA blood test but overall, it may still be able to detect cancer in men that may demonstrate normal PSA levels.
Your doctor may order a biopsy to help confirm a prostate cancer diagnosis. For a biopsy, a healthcare provider removes a small piece of your prostate gland for examination. For accurate results, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology during an MRI-guided prostate biopsy provides detailed images of the prostate.
If prostate cancer is confirmed, tests to assess whether the cancer has spread to other areas of the body may be recommended. This may include x-rays, a CT or MRI scan, and/or a bone scan.
The choice of treatment will differ for each individual. The stage of the cancer, a person’s age, general health, symptoms, lifestyle, and personal choice will all be considered. If the cancer is non-aggressive, your doctor may recommend watchful waiting and active surveillance. More belligerent types may include the following treatment options –
- Systemic therapies
- Focal therapy etc.