Prostate cancer, as the name suggests, is the cancer that originates in the tissues and cells of the prostate which is a walnut-sized gland found in males. The prostate is located between the bladder and the penis and is responsible for secreting fluids for nourishing and protecting the sperm. Prostate cancer is marked by the abnormal growth and multiplication of unhealthy cells in the gland which eventually replace all the healthy cells. Initially, the cancer is confined to the gland only and it progresses very slowly. If detected in the initial stages, there are significantly higher chances of successful treatment.
As discussed earlier, prostate cancer progresses very slowly and as such, the patient does not experience any major symptoms during the initial stages. However, as the problem advances, the patient is likely to experience the following symptoms:
Trouble or discomfort while urinating
Reduced pressure in the stream of urine
Traces of blood in the semen and urine
Pelvic pain and discomfort
A number of tests and screenings are performed to detect whether a person has prostate cancer. These include:
Digital rectal exam (DRE) – It involves the physical examination of the prostate by inserting a gloved and lubricated finger in the rectum. If any abnormality is detected, you may require some more tests
Prostate-specific antigen (OSA) test –The doctor will collect a blood sample and analyse it for PSA levels. If the levels are higher than normal, it might be an indication of prostate cancer.
If the results of your PSA and DRE screenings are not normal, your doctor may recommend further tests:
Ultrasound – Transrectal ultrasound is performed to thoroughly evaluate the prostate. It involves the use of a small probe which is inserted via the rectum to generate a precise image of the gland.
Biopsy – A small sample of the prostate tissue is collected and examined for the traces of any malignancy.
Prostate cancer is classified into 4 stages. These are as under:
Stage I – The earliest stage of cancer in which it progresses very slowly. The tumour is so small that it cannot be felt and involves one-half side of the gland or even less than that. PSA levels are very low and malignant cells are well differentiated.
Stage II – The tumour is still confined to the prostate. PSA levels range from low to medium. Although the tumour is small, it has slightly elevated risks of metastasizing.
Stage III – The cancer is high-grade and has advanced locally. The tumour continues to grow at a considerably fast pace and PSA levels are also elevated.
Stage IV – The cancer has metastasized to the regional & distant lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
Some cancers are slow-growing and do not require any treatment at all whereas others require immediate treatment which is based on the following factors:
Stage and grade of the cancer
Age and overall health
Preference of the patient
The various treatment options available include:
Although you cannot completely negate the risks of prostate cancer, you can surely alleviate these by following a healthy lifestyle:
Add more fruits and veggies to your diet and cut down on the intake of high-fat foods. The nutrients present in fruits and vegetables significantly contribute to your health
Prefer natural nutrients over supplements
Stay active and avoid a stagnant lifestyle. Start slow and increase the pace gradually
Keep your weight under check and lose those extra pounds
Go for regular health check-ups, especially if you have a family history of the problem