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Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer symptoms may not be noticed before prostate cancer is detected from a routine PSA blood test, which is a test done to screen men for this form of cancer. However, some men will experience changes in urination or pain, which could be an indication of cancer.

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It is a small structure about the size and shape of a walnut that wraps around the urethra, which is the tube that transports urine out of the body.

Prostate Cancer Symptoms

Prostate cancer may not be noticed in its early stages. In more advanced cases, the following symptoms may be seen:

  • Difficult urination in which the urinary stream is slow or delayed
  • Decreased force in the urine stream
  • Dribbling after urination ends
  • Leakage of urine
  • Straining urination with a sensation that the bladder was not able to empty completely
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Discomfort in the pelvic region
  • Bone pain

Many of these symptoms mimic a common problem seen in men as they age, which is an enlarged prostate. This problem is termed Prostate Hypertrophy or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) and is typically a benign condition.

Prostate Cancer Causes

The cause of prostate cancer is not fully understood but risk factors have been identified. Men who are at higher risk include:

  • African-American men
  • All men over the age of 60
  • Men with a family history of cancer of the prostate

Other risk factors may include:

  • Obesity
  • Men who eat a high fat diet, particularly animal fats
  • Exposure to agent orange or cadmium
  • Farmers
  • Tire Plant workers
  • Painters

Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

In some cases, the aforementioned symptoms will be notice but most cases of prostate cancer are detected from a routine screening tests. These tests may include a Digital Rectal Exam or a blood test called a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test. If abnormalities are discovered with the screening tests, your doctor may recommend further tests to confirm the diagnosis such as an Ultrasound or a biopsy of the prostate.

A biopsy is the only test that can positively confirm the presence of cancer and if cancer cells are present your results will be reported using something called a Gleason score. The Gleason score is a way of evaluating how aggressive your cancer is with 2 being non-aggressive cancer and 10 being very aggressive cancer.

Your doctor may order additional tests to determine if the cancer has spread such as a CT Scan, Bone Scan or MRI.

Prostate Cancer Treatment

Treatment of prostate cancer will vary from individual to individual and will be determined based on a number of factors such as how fast your cancer is progressing, if it has spread, your age, your overall health and potential side effects of the treatments.

Some men may not require immediate treatment especially if they are diagnosed very early or if they are of advanced age. In these cases the doctor may take a “watchful waiting” approach in which regular follow-up blood tests, rectal exams and possibly other tests (i.e. biopsies) are performed to monitor the growth of the cancer.

In other cases where the cancer is detected early, your doctor may consider surgery and radiation therapy. Other forms of treatment may be considered especially if the cancer has spread. These other treatments may include hormone therapy, cryotherapy, high-intensity focused ultrasound treatment and chemotherapy.