How Getting Checked for Prostate Cancer Can Change your Life

Monday, 22 Nov 2010 02:46 PM

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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men and the second leading cancer cause of death among American men.

In the past year, around 217,730 patients were detected with prostate cancer.
 
The prostate gland is an organ that is located at the base or neck of the urinary bladder. The main function or role of the prostate gland is to produce some of the substances that the semen is composed of. In young adults, the size of prostate gland is that of a walnut, but with age the prostate gland enlarges, leading to difficulties relating to urination.
 
Prostate cancer begins with a slow growing tumor on the gland. During this time, the tumor produces no significant or noticeable symptoms. However, as the cancer advances, there are chances of it spreading to numerous surrounding places including organs like lungs and liver.

At later stages, prostate cancer symptoms increase. One prominent symptom is frequent and painful urination. Blood in urine and difficulty in maintaining a steady stream of urine are rare, but possible symptoms. Depending on the extent of prostate cancer malignancy, the symptoms may vary depending on which body part is affected.
 
The specific causes of prostate cancer remain unknown. However, the age and family history play catalytic roles. Also, men with high blood pressure are at greater risk. Genetic background may also contribute to risk, though no single gene responsible for this has been identified yet. However, mutations in some genes that cause breast and ovarian cancer in women have been linked to the causes of prostate cancer.
 
Prostate cancer screening test is done to detect the condition early. However, further tests are necessary to confirm the presence of the condition. There are two screening tests for prostate cancer. The Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). In DRE, the doctor feels the patient’s prostate gland with his gloved finger in the rectum. If the prostate gland feels hard, lumpy, or abnormal in any manner, the presence of “prostate cancer” is indicated. The PSA is a fairly accurate test to diagnose the presence of prostate cancer. This test checks for a particular protein called prostate specific antigen in the blood of an individual. If the level of this protein is higher than 4ng/ml for an individual, chances of prostate cancer is indicated. It is advisable for men above 40 years of age to undergo regular prostate screening tests.
 
Through regular screening, cancer can be detected in an early stage. And early detection of cancer implies higher chances of successful treatment. As regards the prostate cancer, the treatment options will depend on the patient’s age and his overall health and the spread of the cancer. Prostate cancer treatments include radiotherapy and radical prostatectomy (surgery). Once the cancer advances beyond the prostate gland, there are very little chances of its cure with these treatments. In such cases, hormone treatments are given, which slow down the cancer growth.
 
 The recent trend of performing prostate biopsy is slowly catching up. This screening not only detects the presence of prostate cancer, but also indicates how aggressive the tumor is in terms of spreading. This factor is measured by something called the Gleason Score.

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