[YOUR HEALTH] What Do You Know About Prostate Cancer?

By Dr. Kenneth DeGazon, MD
St. Hope Foundation

Except for skin cancer (non-melanoma), prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. It is the second most common cause of death from cancer among men.

Statistics

CDC in 2011

  • 209, 292 men in United Stated were diagnosed with Prostate Cancer
  • 27,970 men in United States died from prostate cancer.

Causes

Unclear, but the following risk factors play a roll.

Risk Factors

  • Age: The risk increase with age. Prostate cancer is most common in men older than 65.
  • Race: Black men have a greater risk of prostate cancer and the prostate cancer is also more likely to be aggressive or advance. It’s not clear why this is.
  • Family History of prostate or breast cancer: If men in your family have had prostate cancer your risk may be increased. You also have a greater risk if you have a family history of BRAC1 or BRAC2 gene mutation or a very strong history of women with breast cancer .
  • Obesity: Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer may present with advance diseased with complications that may be difficult to treat.

Symptoms

Prostate cancer may not cause signs or symptoms in its early stages. Prostate cancer that is more advanced may cause signs and symptoms such as:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Decreased force in the stream of urine
  • Blood in the urine and semen
  • General pain in the lower back, hips or thigh
  • Bone Pain and Discomfort in the pelvic area.
  • Erectile dysfunction

Complications of prostate cancer

Metastasizes ( Cancer that spreads): Prostate cancer can spread to nearby organs, such as your bladder, or travel through your bloodstream or lymphatic system to your bones or other organs. It can cause pain and broken bones.

Screening

  • Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
  • Prostate Specific Antigen ( PSA) : measures the level of PSA in the blood. Healthcare providers must use caution and consider other factors that may elevate the PSA levels such as age, race. , certain medications and procedures as well as , enlarge prostate and prostate infections.

Diagnosis

If an abnormality is detected on a DRE or PSA test, your doctor may recommend other tests to determine whether you have prostate cancer, such as:

  • Ultrasound: trans-rectal ultrasound to further evaluate your prostate.
  • Prostate Needle Biopsy: to collect a sample of prostate tissue.

Once diagnosis is confirmed: additional testing to determine cancer staging and treatment may be required such as Bone scan, Ultrasound , MRI, CT and PET Scan

Treatment

  • Active surveillance
  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Hormonal Therapy
  • Cryotherapy ( freezing and killing the cancer cells)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunological or Biological Therapy
  • High intensity focused ultrasound

In closing: There is debate regarding the risks and benefits of screening for prostate cancer, and medical organizations differ on their recommendations. But then again when we take a close look at the statistics it is worrisome 1 out of every 6 men will get prostate cancer during their lifetime. Make an appointment with your SHF doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. Discuss prostate cancer screening with your SHF doctor. Together, you can decide what’s best for you.

References:
CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/
National Cancer Institute: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/prostate
American Cancer Society : http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/index

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