Prostate Cancer: Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

The prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland present just below the bladder in men. It produces fluid that makes up a part of semen. Prostate cancer is an abnormal growth of the cells of the prostate gland. It is one of the most common types of cancer.

The prostate gland is the structure with the golden-yellow highlight Photo Credit: University Health News

A lot of times this cancer grows slowly and is confined to the prostate gland where it may not cause any serious harm.

What are the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer?

For the vast majority, there are no signs or symptoms that give away prostate cancer. Some potential symptoms are:

  • Difficulty with urination
  • Slow urinary stream
  • Reduced ejaculatory fluid
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pressure or pain in the rectum
  • Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or thighs

How is prostate cancer diagnosed?

Its diagnosis involves history taking and clinical examination of your body by the doctor. Digital rectal examination is an important diagnostic technique.

The mainstay of screening for this cancer is a blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA). PSA is a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate. Therefore, elevated PSA levels in the blood is not enough to diagnose it. A biopsy is required to confirm the diagnosis.  

When should I start PSA screening?

Screening for PSA depends on a number of factors such as family history of the cancer, age, and race. Those with high risk of the disease should begin screening when they are age 40 and above. These are individuals with a family history of the cancer and/or are African-Americans.

It is important to talk to your doctor about your risk factors and when to begin screening for the disease because those factors may influence the timing.

For most other men, PSA screening can begin from 50 years of age and above.

Treatment of prostate cancer

In this disease, there is a wide spectrum of severity. Some of which are aggressive, others are slow-growing and non-aggressive. If it is diagnosed in its early stages, it can be often be monitored without treatment. This is called active surveillance. Likewise, for older men who are likely to die from other causes asides prostate cancer, they are not treated.

For men with the aggressive type, radiotherapy and/or surgery (prostatectomy) are considered for treatment. The decision to use any of the modalities is dependent on the stage and type of the cancer. Hormonal blockade of testosterone is usually used with radiation treatment.

A word from HealthFacts to you

Prostate cancer is a common cancer among men. Although, it is mostly non-aggressive, it is important to screen yourself regularly for the disease by checking your blood PSA levels.

Till next time, stay informed and stay healthy!

Suggested Reading: Have you heard of this disease of the testes?

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