Prostate Cancer Screening
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the prostate gland, a small walnut-sized gland in men that produces fluid that helps semen. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States, after skin cancer. About 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
What are the tests for Prostate Cancer?
There are a number of tests that can be used to screen for prostate cancer.
Generally, the first test, performed through a blood draw: Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland. A high PSA level can be a sign of prostate cancer, but it can also be caused by other conditions, such as an enlarged prostate.
Digital rectal exam (DRE): A DRE is a physical exam in which the doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland for any abnormalities.
Biopsy: A biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of tissue is removed from the prostate gland and examined under a microscope.
What causes Prostate Cancer?
The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but there are some risk factors that have been identified. These include:
- Age: Prostate cancer is more common in older men. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases significantly after age 50. Most cases are diagnosed in men over the age of 65.
- Family history: Men with a family history of prostate cancer are at increased risk of developing the disease.
- Race: African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men.
- Diet: A diet high in red meat and processed foods may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
- Obesity: Men who are obese are at increased risk of prostate cancer.
- Genetics: Certain gene mutations have been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
What are the symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer often does not cause any symptoms or the symptoms can be vague in the early stages. However, as the cancer grows, it can start to press on the urethra, which can cause problems with urination.
Some of the symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Difficulty starting or stopping urination
- Weak or interrupted urine stream
- Pain or burning during urination
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis
- Erectile dysfunction
- Bone pain
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see your healthcare provider right away. Prostate cancer is often treatable, but the earlier it is diagnosed, the better the chances of a successful outcome.
It is important to note that not everyone with prostate cancer will experience symptoms. Some men with prostate cancer have no symptoms at all. If you are concerned about your risk of prostate cancer, or are above age 50, consult with your healthcare provider about a simple screening test.
What is the treatment for prostate cancer?
The treatment for prostate cancer depends on the stage of the cancer and the patient’s overall health. Treatment options include:
- Active surveillance: This is a watch-and-wait approach for men with low-risk prostate cancer. Men who choose active surveillance will have regular PSA tests and DREs to monitor the cancer. If the cancer starts to grow, they may then choose to have treatment.
- Radiation therapy: This uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be used to treat localized prostate cancer or to treat prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
- Surgery: This involves removing the prostate gland. Surgery is a common treatment for localized prostate cancer. There are two main types of surgery for prostate cancer: radical prostatectomy and cryotherapy.
- Hormone therapy: This blocks the production of testosterone, which can help to slow the growth of prostate cancer. Hormone therapy is often used to treat advanced prostate cancer.
- Chemotherapy: This uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is sometimes used to treat advanced prostate cancer.
The best treatment for prostate cancer is a decision that should be made between you and your healthcare provider. They will consider your individual circumstances and preferences to help you choose the best treatment option for you.
What is the prognosis for Prostate Cancer Patients
The prognosis for prostate cancer depends on the stage of the cancer and the patient’s overall health. Men with early-stage prostate cancer who are treated have a good chance of survival.
According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year relative survival rate for prostate cancer is 98%. This means that 98 out of 100 men diagnosed with prostate cancer will be alive 5 years after diagnosis. The 10-year relative survival rate is 92%.
The prognosis for prostate cancer is also affected by the grade of the cancer. The grade of a cancer is a measure of how aggressive the cancer is. Low-grade cancers are less aggressive than high-grade cancers. The 5-year relative survival rate for low-grade prostate cancer is 99%. The 5-year relative survival rate for high-grade prostate cancer is 87%.
The prognosis for prostate cancer is also affected by the patient’s age and overall health. Men who are older and have other health problems are less likely to survive prostate cancer than younger men who are healthy.
If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about your prognosis. They will be able to give you a more accurate estimate of your chances of survival based on your individual circumstances.
Basically, with early detection through screening, can have a positive effect on the outcome of the treatment options.