About 175,000 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this
year, making it the most common cancer among men other than skin cancer,
according to the American Cancer Society.
It’s a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with this cancer do
not die from it. It is treatable if detected early. There are more than
2.9 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed at some point
who are still alive today.
So what is prostate cancer?
It is when abnormal cells in your prostate grow out of control. Prostate
cancer cells can form a tumor in your gland and spread by breaking away
from the tumor. They can travel through blood vessels or lymph vessels
to reach other parts of the body. After spreading, cancer cells may attach
to other organs and tissues and continue to grow to form new tumors.
It is not clear what causes prostate cancer, but we do know what factors
can increase your risk:
- Age – As men age, their risk of developing prostate cancer increases.
About six in 10 cases are found in men over the age of 65.
- Race – African-America men are 73 percent more likely to develop
prostate cancer than Caucasian men.
- Family history – One in five men whose fathers or brothers had prostate
cancer are more likely to develop the disease.
Prostate cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages.
Symptoms usually do not occur until the cancer advances and spreads outside
the prostate gland. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you
should make an appointment with our team.
- Problems urinating, such as a slow or weak stream or the need to urinate
more often, especially at night
- Blood in your urine or semen
- Trouble getting an erection
- Persistent pain in your hips, back or other boney areas
In general, prostate cancer screening is recommended beginning at age 50.
Screening for men younger than 50 should be considered based on increased
risk factors for prostate cancer.
Types of Screenings
PSA Test (Prostate-Specific Antigen): This is a simple blood draw from
your arm to test your PSA levels. It’s normal to have small amounts
of PSA in your blood, but higher levels indicate something
may be wrong.
- Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): This is when the doctor puts a lubricated glove
finger into the rectum to feel for abnormal shapes or thickness in the
prostate. It only takes a few seconds.
If a PSA test or DRE is abnormal, your urologist may order additional tests,
including a prostate biopsy to determine whether cancer cells are present.
Prostate cancer is a highly treatable condition, especially if detected
early. Depending on the
grade or score of the cancer, there are several options to consider.
Active surveillance – This is when a patient’s PSA levels are monitored without
providing immediate treatment. It is a safe option for patients without
increased risks or spreading of the cancer.
Radiation therapy – There are two types of radiation therapy. Brachytherapy (or seed
implants) and external beam radiation therapy. Both are administered by
a radiation oncologist.
Surgery – This is when a urologist uses a robot to remove the entire prostate.
We use daVinci® robotic surgery, which is more precise and there is
less bleeding, less pain and quick recovery.
Androgen deprivation therapy – Also called hormone therapy, it is a simple injection administered
at scheduled intervals. The goal is to lower levels of male hormones to
make prostate cancer shrink or grow more slowly.
Chemotherapy – Generally reserved for patients with advanced prostate cancer,
chemotherapy is the use of drugs that target and destroy rapidly dividing
There is no guaranteed way to prevent prostate cancer. Many risk factors
(age, race and family history) cannot be controlled. But you may be able to
reduce your risk by making healthy eating choices, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising
and following a few tips.
Is it time for a prostate exam? Visit
www.northoaks.org/prostate to request an appointment with our board-certified urologists or to learn more.