Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer for men, with nearly 10 percent of all men getting it in their senior years. About 99 percent of all prostate cancers occur in men over 50 years old, though younger men should not ignore its risk. While it is one of the most common cancers for men, it also has some of the best survival chances, with over 98 percent of all men diagnosed with prostate cancer surviving at least another five years. This is in part because most prostate cancers grow slowly, and also because there are a lot of simple techniques to notice and diagnose its presence. After diagnosis, there are many effective treatments; however, nearly one out of every 41 men will die from prostate cancer.
Just as women should regularly check their breasts for lumps, men also should check their groin areas. However, that is not commonly taught by most doctors to their male patients, so men should ask their doctors how to do self-examinations.
Other signs that men can check could include any one or more of the following:
- The need to urinate more frequently
- Difficulty in starting to urinate
- Having a weak urine flow (it seems to come out too slow)
- Needing to sometimes rush to the toilet
- Straining to urinate, feeling one’s bladder has not really emptied
- Blood in either your urine or semen (which means something serious!)
A patient with any one of these symptoms should discuss them with his doctor. If a man has more than one of the symptoms for a week or more, he should see a doctor as soon as possible to check on possible causes. There are also more potentially treatable physical problems not related to the prostate gland that might cause those problems. A general practitioner through some simple tests should be able to then know if a urologist would be required.
Those uncomfortable “digital” rectal exams (DRE) men are asked to undergo can also detect prostate cancer, as well as another non-cancerous condition that can cause an enlarged prostate (BPH). If a general practitioner detects something unusual from a DRE that seems to be prostate-related, a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test usually will be ordered. PSA is a prostrate-made substance that will tend to increase when men have cancer, inflammation, or even a simple infection of the prostate gland. Medical specialists will know when the PSA counts require specialists like those at the Advanced Urology Institute to further examine the patient.
A urology clinic can do most, if not all the following tests to determine if prostate cancer is the problem. They can use a transrectal ultrasound to get an ultrasound picture of the prostate gland and surrounding tissues. X-rays can detect if a cancer has potentially spread in a visible way. If the urologists determine there clearly are issues with the prostate, they perform a biopsy to discover the grade of the cancer, to discover how potentially aggressive the cancer is. A transrectal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be required since some types of prostate cancer can spread out of the prostate into surrounding tissues and bones. Bone scans also may be utilized. Genetic tests on the biopsied tissues will help determine how aggressive the cancer may be. The clinic may use other types of exams and tests, depending upon medical findings.
After the urologist has completed the medical evaluations, the chances of recovery, the prognosis, can be discussed with the patient as well as the treatment options. The board-certified specialists at various clinics of the Advanced Urology Institute have years of experience working with patients, giving them the best advice for each of their unique situations. For more information, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.