Prostate Cancer – What men should know?
Prostate gland is a gland that is associated with the male reproductive system. The prostate gland contributes to about 20% of the seminal fluid and secretes substances called as Acid Phosphatase and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). The prostate is one of the commoner sites in men to be affected by cancer. More and more people are falling prey to Prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is one of the few cancers that can be diagnosed at a very early stage by a simple test.
Early prostate cancer is generally asymptomatic. The prostate can become enlarged but still can be benign in many men. It is as common as the hair turning grey or cataracts forming in the eyes. Benign enlargement of the prostate is associated with increased frequency of urination, waking up many times at night to pass urine, dribbling of urine, feeling of inadequate bladder emptying, weak urine stream and difficulty in starting and stopping the urine flow. Malignant enlargement of the prostate can have all the above symptoms and blood in urine, pain in the pelvis just below the anal passage, pain in the hips and back due to the cancer spreading. Cancer of the prostate in advanced stages can spread to the vertebral bones.
A very strong family history, Afro-American race and non-vegetarianism are sometimes seen as causative factors.
The diagnosis of Prostate cancer is very simple. All men above the age of 50 should consult an Urologist who will advise a blood test to detect PSA. Levels below 4 are normal and anything above 4 should arouse suspicion of cancer. The Urologist will perform a per rectal exam, do an Ultrasound and a biopsy if needed. CT scan and MRI are needed to assess spread of the disease.
Treatment depends upon the stage of the disease. It can involve simple removal of the gland, removal of the surrounding lymph nodes, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
The key to avoid complications of prostate cancer is early detection.