What is Prostate Cancer?
The cells that make up the outer most part of the prostate can become cancerous and give rise to prostate cancer. If left untreated, prostate cancer cells may eventually spread and invade other parts of the body, particularly the lymphnodes and bones, producing secondary tumours.
- Age: The risk of prostate cancer increases after the age of 50years
- Race or ethnicity: Dark skinned men have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer
- Hereditary: Family history increases the risk of prostate cancer
- Diet: The risk of prostate cancer may increase with a high-fat diet or obesity
Early stage prostate cancer may not produce any signs. As the cancer advances to a later stage, it may produce the following symptoms:
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Weak urinary stream
- Inability to urinate
- Interruption of urinary stream
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- Blood in the urine
- Bone pain
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
Screening tests can help to detect prostate cancer early. Some of the screening tests available include:
Digital Rectal Examination: This is the first step in diagnosing prostate cancer. The doctor uses a gloved finger to examine the rectum and detect any abnormalities in the texture, shape or size of the prostate gland.
A doctor uses a gloved finger to examine the rectum
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test: PSA is a substance produced by prostate cells. High PSA levels will warrant further investigation.
Transrectal Ultrasound: An ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum to check the prostate.
Biopsy: This procedure involves taking thin sections of tissue from the prostate gland. A positive result for cancer cells may be followed by additional tests to ascertain the stage of cancer. Additional tests include:
Surgery: May be recommended if the tumour is localised at the prostate. It involves the complete removal of the prostate.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill the cancer cells.
Hormonal Therapy: In prostate cancer, an increase in male sex hormones can cause prostate cancer cells to grow. Hormonal therapy works by removing the source of male hormones or used together with drugs or surgery.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells.
Active Surveillance or Watchful Waiting: Selected persons may be closely monitored by blood tests and biopsies.
There is no total prevention for prostate cancer. In general, men are advised to make choices that benefit their overall health such as:
- Adopt a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and low in animal fat
- Exercise regularly and be physically active
- Maintain a healthy weight
Men over 50 years of age and/or men who have a strong family history of prostate cancer should be aware of the symptoms of prostate cancer, and discuss the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening with their doctors.
For more information, please visit the Centre for Health Activation, located at Level 1 of TTSH Atrium. Alternatively, you may call us at 6357 8018 during office hours.
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