Let’s begin with the basics. Prostate is an exocrine gland of the male reproductive system which is present right under the bladder and in front of the rectum. Prostate cancer generally starts with abnormal growth in the gland cells. The size and the shape of the gland cells may be altered. Even today, prostate cancer is very common among older men.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms that indicate the possibility of prostate cancer are:
- Urine flow is interrupted or weak.
- Sudden surges to urinate.
- Patient may have to urinate more frequently – especially at night.
- Trouble urinating.
- Patient may experience pain or burning while urinating.
- Blood in the urine stream.
- Pain in the back, hips and pelvis that does not go away.
- Shortness of breath.
- Fast heartbeat
- Dizziness, pale skin and tired feeling.
If you experience any of the above mentioned symptoms, make sure you consult your doctor immediately.
There are several tests that can be used to detect and diagnose this cancer. Here are a few of them:
- Physical exam: This includes observing the patient for all the above mentioned signs and symptoms. It also includes a physical examination to detect any abnormal growth or lumps on the prostate gland. In short, it is a procedure that helps detect any unusual growth in the gland. The doctor may also ask questions about the patient’s health habits and past illnesses as well as the treatments taken.
- Digital Rectal Exam: In this process, the doctor or nurse may insert a lubricated gloved finger into the rectum in order to examine the prostate gland for lumps.
- Prostate Specific Antigen Test: This examination measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is found in greater amounts in the blood of patients suffering from prostate cancer.
- Trans-rectal Ultrasound: A probe is inserted into the rectum which is used to detect cancer. High energy sound waves are bounced back. These are used to create an image of the body tissues called as sonogram.
- MRI: A strong magnet, radio waves and a computer is used to create images of the areas inside the body. A probe is inserted in the rectum which helps the MRI machine to create clear images of the prostate and the nearby tissues. This can also detect whether the cancer has spread to the nearby tissues.
- Biopsy: This includes the removal of a few cells from the prostate gland so that they can be observed under a microscope.
Treatment options and recovery chances are generally decided after the stage of the cancer is diagnosed. This means that it is necessary to understand how much of the prostate gland is affected by the cancer and how much has it spread to other parts of the body. The other important factor is the age of the patient and whether the cancer is diagnosed for the first time or has reoccurred. Prostate cancer treatment options are plenty and the good news is that most patients who are diagnosed with this cancer do not die of it.