- October 11, 2018
- Posted by: Dr. Amit Gandhi
- Category: CANCER, Uncategorized
Everything You Need to Know about Prostate Cancer Before it is Too Late!
Prostate cancer is the most common forms of cancer diagnosed in men. Prostate cancer is an ailment defined by the abnormal cell growth. Such abnormal cells can increase in an uncontrolled manner and, if not treated, develop into tumors that may metastasize or spread to other body parts. Prostate cancer has the ability to grow as well as spread quickly, but for most of the patients, it is a relatively slowing growing ailment.
For men, diagnosed with prostate cancer, it is extremely vital to understand the risk factors as well as symptoms. Knowing where the prostate is situated in the body and the functions of prostate will help to understand the impacts and treatment of prostate cancer.
Function and Location of the Prostate
The prostate is a walnut sized gland, which is a part of the male reproductive system. This gland is present only in men. Understanding the function and location of the prostate will help you learn the symptoms of prostate cancer as well as other non-cancerous conditions, which can affect the prostate function.
The prostate is situated underneath the bladder, between rectum and penis. The urethra tube runs out of the bladder, through center of prostrate, then penis, offering path for urination. Problem or damage of the prostate is a major cause of incontinence. In the reproduction process, prostate muscles help to expel sperm from the body while secreting seminal fluids that nourish and protect the sperm.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
A symptom of an ailment is a departure from normal function or feeling noticed by a patient, showcasing the presence of an unusual state or disease. In prostate cancer, the early stages usually have no symptoms or signs. If you have a more advanced prostate cancer then you may experience the following symptoms, such as:
- Weak urine stream
- Stopping and starting during urination, difficulty initiating urination
- Urinating frequently
- Pain or burning with urination
- Blood in semen and urine
- Pain in the hips, spine, upper legs, or pelvis
- Discomfort or pain during ejaculation
- Difficulty in erection
Prostate Cancer Risk Factors
As per the research, men with certain risk factors are more likely to develop prostate cancer. Understanding the risk factors will help you build an appropriate plan for future prostate cancer screening. The main risk factors of prostate cancer are:
- Age more than 65 – It is the main risk factor for prostate cancer. Older men are more likely to develop prostate cancer.
- Family History – People with a family history of prostate cancer have higher possibilities of experiencing this problem.
- Obesity – Numerous studies show that obese men have a higher risk of experiencing prostate cancer or experience the disease after radiation therapy or surgery.
- Race – Prostate cancer is more common in African African men and less common among Pacific and Asian, Native Alaskan, and Native American men.
- Diet – Men who consume high levels of fat are more likely to develop prostate cancer. Those who consume a healthy diet including fruits and vegetables are less likely to expect this ailment.
- Lifestyle – Lack of exercise and stress can be a major cause of any common disease. It is suggested to maintain a routine of regular exercise. It is also suggested you work to identify and reduce stress factors in life.
- Changes in the prostate – Men having body cells known as high grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia or PIN are at high risk of prostate cancer.
- Changes in Genome – Researches suggest that the risk of prostate cancer can be linked to changes on specific chromosomes.
Prostate Cancer Screening and Early Detection
Establishing a regular schedule for prostate cancer screening is the finest way to determine prostate cancer in its earliest levels – offering you better chances of successful treatment.
You may start screening for prostate cancer after talking to your doctor at the next checkup to go over specific risk factors. There might be risks associates to prostate cancer and hence have a great chances of developing prostate cancer than other men.
The general screening process must begin in your 40s and 50s. Regular screening usually involves two simple tests – PSA and DRE.
The PSA test measures the levels of prostate specific antigen in the blood. It is usually an additional test than the regular blood test. PSA is a protein generated by the cells of the prostate and cancerous cells tend to release more PSA. So, if there is an increase in PSA level it signifies there is a problem.
Tracking your PSA regularly can help in early detection of prostate cancer. If the level is in normal range, but higher than previous level, then there are still chances of experiencing prostate cancer.
PSA testing may disclose results that prompt a doctor suggest a biopsy. The result may create confusion when there is mild elevation. There are other supplementary tests and considerations that can help to know whether biopsy is needed or not.
In addition to this, the other routine test is DRE or Digital Rectal Exam. During this test, the doctor will insert a lubricate finger in the rectum and press towards front of your body to feel prostate. An irregularly or enlarged shaped prostate is a red flag that must be investigated.
Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer
When a PSA test or Digital Rectal Exam reveals abnormal results, the next step is to test and determine whether prostate cancer is present or not. The doctor will evaluate your results and if you are experiencing any symptoms then you need to perform the recommended tests, like:
Ultrasound – A transrectal ultrasound is performed inserting a small ultrasound probe into rectum. An ultrasound machine transmits sound waves and then estimates the echoes that bounce back off body structures to generate an image of landscape of the structure. It can offer images that show the extent of prostate enlargement or abnormalities.
MRI – MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is sometimes used to generate a more detailed set of images as compared to an ultrasound can offer.
Biopsy – A biopsy is done by taking a sample of tissue for examination under a microscope. A biopsy is performed through a needle inserted into the prostate or a bigger sample can be obtained surgically. Usually, ultrasound is used to guide the needles to the correct area of concern.
Incidental Procedures – Sometimes, doctor carrying surgery in a close area actually see something missed with the prostate and can take a sample during the same process.
Determining Aggressiveness of Prostate Cancer
When a biopsy confirms that prostate cancer is present, the next step is to determine level of grade or aggressiveness of the cancer cells. A laboratory pathologist analyzes the sample of cancer to determine how much cancer cells differ from the healthy cells. If there is a higher grade identified then this indicates more aggressive nature of cancer, which is more likely to spread quickly.
The common scale used to analyze grade of prostate cancer cells is known as Gleason score.
Determining Spread of Prostate Cancer
Once diagnosis of prostate cancer is made, the doctor works to determine the stage or extent of the cancer. If the doctor suspects cancer that may have spread beyond the prostate, one or more of the following tests may be suggested.
- Bone Scan
- Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
Prostate Cancer Treatment
The treatment of prostate cancer depends on numerous factors, like how fast your cancer is developing, how much it has spread and your overall health as well as the benefits and side effects of the treatment.
When Immediate Treatment is not required
For males diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer, treatment may not be required instantly. Some men may never require treatment. Rather, doctors sometimes suggest active surveillance.
In this process, regular follow-up blood examinations, rectal exams, and biopsies are performed to monitor progress of cancer. If the test shows your cancer is progressing, you may opt for prostate cancer treatment like surgery or radiation.
Active surveillance is an option for cancer that is not causing symptoms and is expected to grow at a small pace and is confined to small area of the prostate. Active surveillance would also be considered for a person with another severe health condition or who has an advance age that makes curing cancer more difficult.
- Removing Prostate through Surgery
It is possible to remove prostate cancer through surgery as well. The surgical process is known as radical prostatectomy that can be performed in different ways:
Surgery done with the help of a robot – A robot assisted surgery is done by attaching the instruments to a mechanical device or robot. These instruments are then inserted into the abdomen through numerous incisions. This surgery enables the surgeon to make more precise movements with surgical instruments than possible with traditional invasive surgery.
With an incision in abdomen – This is retropubic surgery where the prostate gland is taken out through an incision in lower abdomen.
- Radiation Therapy
This is another treatment process that involves use of high-powered energy to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be offered in two different ways:
Radiation Using an External Beam Radiation – This process involved directing high-powered external beam radiation like protons or X-rays to the prostate cancer. The treatment is performed for five days to several weeks.
Radiation Placed Inside the Body – This process is known as brachytherapy that involved placing numerous rice-sized radioactive seeds in the prostate tissue. The radioactive seeds offer a low dose radiation over a long time period. The doctor implants radioactive seeds in prostate cancer with a needle assisted by ultrasound images. Such implanted seeds eventually stop releasing radiation and don’t require to be removed.
- Hormone Therapy
This therapy is another treatment to stop your body from producing male hormones testosterone. It is because prostate cancer usually relies on testosterone for growth. Cutting off their supply can cause cancer cells to die or grow slowly.
Hormone therapy is used in men experiencing advanced prostate cancer. This therapy shrinks the cancer and slows the growth of tumors. Men experiencing early stage of prostate cancer can benefit with shrink tumors before radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill rapidly growing cancerous cells. It is usually administered through a vein in the arm, in form of pill, or both. Chemotherapy is an excellent treatment options for prostate cancer that has spread to other body parts or remote locations. It is also a treatment option for cancers that does not respond to hormone therapy.
- Biological Therapy
Also called as immunotherapy, biological therapy uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. A commonly used biological therapy to remove prostate cancer is sipuleucel – T, which has been introduced to cure advanced and recurring prostate cancer.
Such a treatment option takes some of the immune cells, genetically engineers them in laboratory to fight against prostate cancer. The doctors then inject these cells backs into the body through a vein. The response rate of this treatment is 50%. It is an expensive treatment that involves multiple sittings.
On a yearly basis worldwide, approximately 1.1 million men are identified with prostate cancer. More than 300,000 men die of this cancer because of late diagnosis. For sure, prostate cancer is a widely available disease. If you too are suffering from one or doubt yourself for this, then you must get an early diagnosis and instant treatment. For this contact only the experts.