Prostate Cancer: Are You at Risk? The Answer May Surprise You
July 16, 2020
You may feel anxious about what prostate cancer risk you are exposed to. What does it look like, and what can you do?
Or you may wonder why some men get prostate cancer but not others.
Let us look into issues around prostate cancer as they may affect you.
Prostate Cancer happens when cells of the prostate gland start to grow out of control.
The prostate gland is an important organ in men that contributes to the semen or ejaculatory fluid where sperm is stored and nourished.
So, it is important for reproduction, though not essential for life.
The prostate gland is about the size of a ping-pong ball and is located at the bottom of the urinary bladder.
The best way to feel the gland is by a digital rectal examination.
We do not yet know exactly what causes or leads to cancer.
However, it appears to happen more often in certain situations, which we refer to as ‘risk factors’.
We think cancer development anywhere may be a result of chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is a response of your immune system – which may go out of control leading to cancer.
But what triggers this inflammation? Could it be a combination of factors?
This is still not very clear.
So, the emphasis is placed on ways to reduce the risk factors for cancer.
Some of these prostate cancer risk factors are:
As you can see from the possible risk factors, some are not within our control, like race, age or family background.
So we cannot completely prevent cancer from happening, though we may reduce the risks of it happening to as much a degree as we can.
At present, prostate screening is the best way to reduce the risk of late diagnosis and complications.
There are 2 screening procedures for the prostate:
A blood test for PSA, prostate-specific antigen, a protein produced by the prostate gland, can indicate the presence of cancer early on in the process.
Although it can be high in other conditions, it is very useful when used with the second screening method, Digital Rectal Examination (DRE).
In a DRE, the doctor will perform a manual examination of the rectum to feel if the prostate has become bigger or harder, some of the signs of prostate cancer.
The conclusive way to diagnose if a man has cancer of the prostate is by an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan and a biopsy.
A biopsy is a method of taking a very small piece of tissue from the prostate in order to test for signs of cancer.
The MRI scan is not invasive, it involves having a series of ‘pictures’ of the prostate gland using the MRI scanner.
The biopsy, on the other hand, involves an operation where your doctor collects tissue from the prostate through the skin for testing.
It is important to discuss all these methods in detail with your urologist (the specialist who looks after male reproductive organs).
It’s best to speak to your doctor about screening tests which you can have.
This is especially if you are of African background, over the age of 45 years and have a relative who has prostate cancer.
You may also be worried about symptoms that suggest cancer in the prostate gland.
These may be:
If the cancer is found early, the options for treatment can include radiotherapy, surgery as well as medication (chemotherapy).
In some cases, it may be a case of ‘watchful waiting’ instead of surgery or radiotherapy.
The method chosen depends on your overall health, age and how early the cancer is when discovered.
Taking all this into account helps decide which is the best for your specific situation.
Remember that different options may have some complications – such as side effects from medication or surgery.
Now that you have a better idea about what prostate cancer looks like, you can start asking more questions.
And there is a lot more information in the reference section.
Speak to your doctor about tests for prostate cancer today.
Ladies! Share this post with your brothers, husbands, sons and male friends.
Being Prostate Aware is not just a ‘man’s problem’!
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality healthcare.
The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly
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