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What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. Recently, it is possible to diagnose this condition in early stages thanks to advancements in screening and early diagnosis methods within last three decades.
The prostate is the gland of male genital system located beneath the urinary bladder and it secretes a part of semen. Prostate cancer is secondary to abnormal growth of those secretory cells. Risk of the prostate cancer increases for persons older than 65 years and have positive family history of prostate cancer (especially brothers or father).
Symptoms and Diagnosis of the Prostate Cancer
Prostate Cancer statements:
- The prostate cancer is usually asymptomatic, but some signs lead to prostate cancer suspect:
- A lump in the prostate gland or asymmetrical prostate gland
- Difficulty urinating
- Difficulty in starting and stopping urinating
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Weak urinary stream
- Interruptions in maintaining urinary stream
- Pain or burn during urinating
- Difficulty getting an erection (erectile dysfunction)
- Blood in urine or semen
Positive DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) findings or abnormal blood PSA (prostate specific antigen) result is among most important findings, but they do not necessarily imply that there is absolutely cancer, or similarly, above mentioned symptoms may originate from other etiologies (some other diseases such as non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland).
Your doctor will recommend biopsy to determine whether symptoms or abnormal DRE and PSA result from non-cancerous enlargement or prostate cancer. Trans-rectal ultrasound (TRUS) technique is used to collect biopsy specimens. A finger-sized probe is inserted into rectum and the prostate gland is visualized. After tissue specimens are collected from many regions of the prostate gland, these specimens are examined under microscope to investigate cancer cells.
If prostate cancer is identified in the light of biopsy specimens, some tests can be performed to determine how aggressive the cancer is. Your doctor may request some tests to determine whether tumor is confined to the origin (localized tumor) or whether it had spread to other body regions (metastatic tumor).
- Bone scan (scintigraphy) to determine whether cancer cells spread to bone tissue
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and/or computed tomography to image interior regions of body in detail
- Whole body Ga-68 PET/CT scan can be performed to evaluate both bone and other organ systems.
All those imaging studies not only provide information about extent of spread and characteristics of the cancer, but they are also important to stage the disease. Details about the stage of your disease are important to determine which treatment will provide the best outcomes.
Stages of the Prostate Cancer
A conventional staging system is used to determine whether localized or spread the tumor is. Stages of the prostate cancer range from Stage 1 (localized; cancer cells are confined to the prostate gland) to Stage 4 (tumor has spread to distant lymph nodes and/or organs, including bones). Determining stage of the cancer is important to plan the best treatment for you.
Treatment of the Prostate Cancer
Efficiency of the treatment depends on how localized or how spread the tumor is. Your doctor will recommend one or more than one of following treatment options depending on stage of your disease as well as your age and your general health status.
- Surgery (prostatectomy)
- Radiation therapy (brachytherapy, external radiotherapy)
- Hormone therapy