Prostate is a gland that is situated below the bladder. It is a small walnut-sized gland. Prostate cancer happens when the cells in the prostate begin to grow and divide faster than the normal cells. The other cells die when their lifespan is over. However, cancer cells live and reproduce. When these cancer cells accumulate, it causes a tumour. The tumour then spreads to the nearby tissues, organs, lymph nodes and eventually to the bones.
Prostate cancer symptoms
The common signs of prostate cancer are as follows:
- Trouble in urination or increase in the frequency of urination
- Decrease in the force of urination
- Blood found in the urine and semen
- Swelling in the legs
- Discomfort in the rectal and pelvic region
- Ejaculation pain, erectile and other sexual dysfunction
Regular cancer screening for prostate cancer is important because the indications can develop months or even years later in some men. This can make the treatment more complicated and also reduce the chances of success.
Know who is at risk
A man’s risk of developing prostate cancer increases because of the following factors:
- Age – Men who are over 50 years of age are likely to develop prostate cancer, however, it is common in men over 65 years of age
- Genetics – Those who have a family history of prostate cancer are at an increased risk
- Obesity – Overweight men are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer
Regular checkup is important
One needs to do a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening which detects the level of PSA in the blood. The PSA level is measured with a blood test. PSA is the protein that is produced by the prostate gland and when the patient is affected by cancer, enlargement or an infection, the enzyme levels are higher.
The doctor will do a digital rectal exam (DRE) on men who are at risk of developing prostate cancer. An ultrasound is then done to check if there is any tumour. A biopsy may be needed if the initial tests are concerning.
There are many treatment options to treat prostate cancer.
- Prostatectomy Surgery is done to remove the prostate gland
- Radiation therapy uses high energy radiation to shrink and kill the cancer cells
- Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that kills cancer cells using chemicals
- Hormone therapy is a method where the body is made to stop producing testosterone, which is the hormone used by the prostate tumours to grow
- Brachytherapy uses radioactive seeds near the tumour to shrink and kill it
- Cryosurgery is where the tissues are frozen to kill the cancer cells
- Ultrasound therapy kills cancer cells by heating the prostate tissues
New types of treatment like high intensity focused ultrasound therapy to kill cancer cells are being researched on. Targeted therapy drugs to stop cancer cell growth and radio frequency ablation to reduce pain are the other forms of treatment.
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The earlier prostate cancer is detected, the better. The early stages can be treated but it becomes difficult to treat when the cancer reaches the advanced stages. The treatments that are done in the advanced stages may also cause side effects like erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.