When the cells in the prostate gland change into abnormal cells and grow out of control, there can be a high risk of having prostate cancer. This type of cancer usually occurs in men who are older than 50. It is a very common type of cancer and most men do not die from it because prostate cancer usually grows very slowly.
The common symptoms of prostate cancer are:
- Need to urinate more often than usual
- A urine stream that is slower than usual
- Bone pain that arises because prostate cancer has spread to bones
Is there a test for prostate cancer?
Yes. The doctors recommend a blood test called a "PSA test" and conduct a rectal exam to check for prostate cancer. In a rectal exam, the doctor or nurse puts a finger in your anus and up into your rectum. The clinician will then put pressure on the rectum wall to check for abnormal areas on the prostate.
What tests will the doctor recommend?
If your doctor suspects you are suffering from prostate cancer, he or she will recommend you a follow-up with one or more tests like:
Biopsy: In this, the doctor will take a sample of tissue from the prostate to check for cancer.
Ultrasound, MRI scan or other imaging tests: They will create images of tests inside the body to detect abnormal growth of cells.
Dr. Alok Gupta says that the symptoms may be caused by some other conditions, but it is necessary to let your doctor or nurse know about it.
How is Prostate Cancer Treated?
Men suffering from prostate cancer often have a choice of treatment. The treatments available are:
Active Surveillance: Routine tests are done to check whether cancer has started to grow quickly. Men who choose this option do not receive the treatment right away.
Surgery: A localized prostate cancer can be treated with surgery to remove the prostate gland.
Radiation Therapy: The doctor might put you on the source of radiation directly to the prostate gland.
Hormone Therapy: Sometimes, male testosterone can make cancer grow. This therapy reduces the level of these hormones that can shrink cancer. Men can be prescribed medicines or get a surgery done to remove the testicles. The treatment is specifically done for men suffering from advanced cancer.
Chemotherapy: Men who are suffering from advanced prostate cancer might get chemotherapy done if hormone therapy stops working. It is also possible that chemotherapy and hormone therapy might be given at the same time.
Dr. Alok Gupta says, older men with these conditions might choose not to do any of the above rather they believe in “Watchful Waiting”. This is not the same as active surveillance. However, it does not require regular testing but involves treating symptoms as and when they occur.
My right treatment will depend on:
The stage of cancer
- Age factor
- Health problems
- Treatment options available
Always ask your doctor and caregiver to know how you feel about a treatment. Anytime you are offered the treatment, you must ask:
- What are the benefits of this treatment? Is it likely to help me live longer? Will it reduce or prevent symptoms?
- What are the downsides to this treatment?
- Are there other options besides this treatment?
- What happens if I do not have this treatment?
What happens after the treatment?
Some men keep getting examined to check if cancer can come back or start growing quickly. The follow-up tests can include PSA tests, exams, biopsies or imaging tests. If cancer comes back, you will be recommended radiation therapy, surgery or hormone therapy.
Can prostate cancer be prevented?
Men who are at a risk of getting prostate cancer can take medicines to prevent the disease. In case there is a family history of prostate cancer, talk to your doctor.