If you are a man, there is a 1-in-6 chance that you will develop prostate cancer at some point in your life. Prostate cancer is basically a tumor of the prostate, the gland located in front of the rectum and just below the bladder. The prostate helps in making the milky fluid called semen, which carries sperm out of the body during ejaculation. Prostate cancer is most common among men over 65 years of age and fairly prevalent in men aged 50-64 years. Still, the cancer can occur in younger men below 50 and screening for it should begin between 40 and 45 years of age.
Risk factors of the cancer include:
- Family history
- History of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)
- Diets high in fats from red meat
While prostate cancer is a highly treatable condition, many men suffer needlessly because they did not know the symptoms in order to catch it before the advanced stages. And though the cancer typically shows few signs until it has reached advanced stages, knowing the symptoms can be the difference between having to face surgery and just making a few lifestyle changes. The symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Urination issues
- Erectile dysfunction
- Blood in urine/semen
- Lower back, hip or pelvic pain
In some instances of early prostate cancer, no symptoms occur and the cancer can only be detected through routine screenings.
Effective Ways to Detect Prostate Cancer
Your urologist will start by asking you about your medical history, symptoms and risk factors. A physical examination will also be performed. The doctor will then request a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to analyze your blood sample for higher-than-normal levels of the prostate-specific antigen, which is a protein secreted by the prostate gland. Higher PSA levels may indicate presence of cancer. In some cases, your doctor will opt to use the PSA3 test to check for levels of antigen 3 in your urine. When PSA levels are abnormal, the urologist will usually suggest that you return in 6 months for a second PSA test to confirm the presence of the cancer. Other test options that may be used to confirm a diagnosis of prostate cancer are:
(a) Digital rectal exam: The doctor will insert a gloved finger into your lower rectum and prostate gland to check for any abnormalities in size, texture or shape of the prostate.
(b) Targeted biopsy: The doctor removes tissue samples from the prostate by using either MRI fusion-targeted 3D imaging method or the ultrasound high-yield saturation method. Samples taken are analyzed to detect the cancer and determine its severity.
(c) Prostate imaging: Also called perfusion dynamic MRI, prostate imaging uses a special contrast agent inserted into the prostate to precisely identify patients with the risk of prostate carcinoma.
Once prostate cancer is confirmed, the next step is determining its aggressiveness. The aggressiveness of a cancer helps the urologist to choose the best treatment option for the condition. So, after knowing how aggressive the cancer is, the urologist can recommend:
(a) Active surveillance: You are not offered any treatment but kept under careful observation and medical monitoring.
(b) External beam therapy (EBT): The urologist refers you to a radiation oncologist to deliver a beam of high-energy proton beams or x-ray to the tumor location. The oncologist may also use other radiation techniques such as conformal external beam radiation therapy, stereotactic body radiation therapy, proton beam therapy, or image-guided radiation therapy.
(c) Brachytherapy: In this case, radiation is delivered to your prostate by placing radioactive materials inside the prostate. The two forms used are low-dose rate (LDR) and the high-dose rate (HDR) Brachytherapy.
(d) Cryotherapy: This method uses extremely low temperatures (as low as -190 degrees Celsius) to freeze and destroy cancer cells.
(e) Surgery: The urologist makes an incision through the perineum or in the lower abdomen to remove the prostate. A skilled and experienced urologist will perform the surgery without interfering with your sexual function.
At Advanced Urology Institute, we have the best pool of urologists and state-of-the art equipment to help detect and treat prostate cancer. If you want to be screened for the condition, even without symptoms, never hesitate to see a urologist. Remember, early detection is the key to successful prostate cancer treatment. To learn more about prostate cancer screening, prevention and treatment, visit Advanced Urology Institute.