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Prostate Cancer: Complete guide on symptoms, causes and treatments

Prostate cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in men worldwide. The prevalence of prostate cancer is significantly high and ever-increasing. According to a report by ICMR, the incidences of prostate cancer are likely to double in the year 2020. 

Fortunately, it is also a condition that can be easily managed. Oncologists are able to effectively treat prostate cancer if the diagnosis has arrived at an early stage. Proper medical management is offered by healthcare providers even when the cancer is detected at late stages. 

In this article, Dr Shalabh Agrawal, best urologist and andrologist in Gurgaon, talks about everything you may need to know regarding different treatments for prostate cancer.

What is prostate cancer?

The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland located under the bladder in the lower abdomen area in men. This gland is responsible for the production and transfer of seminal fluid. 

Prostate cancer occurs when the cells present in this gland begin to multiply at an abnormal rate. In most cases, this cancer remains restricted to the prostate gland. However, it can also spread to other areas in the body. 

Prostate cancer is among the top ten cancers affecting Indian men over the age of 60 years. 

What are prostate cancer symptoms?

Prostate cancer is difficult to diagnose in the early stages as it does not highlight any symptoms. The signs of this condition develop when cancer has progressed. Nonetheless, you should stay wary of common prostate cancer symptoms.

Some of the prostate cancer symptoms include:

Problems in urination

Advanced prostate cancer can lead to urinary issues. It is because the tumour may press on the bladder which is located nearby. 

You may experience repeated urgency to urinate, painful urination, blood in the urine and more. 

Sexual problems

Among the top prostate cancer symptoms is the issue of sexual problems faced by men. 

Men living with this cancer may have difficulty in maintaining or getting an erection. You may also experience the presence of blood in the semen and painful ejaculation. 

Pain and discomfort

If you are suffering from prostate cancer, you may have pain in your lower back, abdomen, and pelvic area. You should consult your healthcare provider if you feel persistent discomfort in these body parts. 

It is possible that some of the above-given symptoms are signs of other urological or sexual conditions. Therefore, screening tests are indicated to draw an accurate diagnosis. 

Read: What are the early signs of prostate cancer?

What are prostate cancer causes?

There is not a defined set of prostate cancer causes. It is believed that prostate cancer is caused when the cells in prostate gland undergo changes in their DNA. The unusual DNA changes lead to the growth and spread of cancerous cells. 

Though it is difficult to tell why prostate cancer occurs, doctors can help to identify who may be affected by this cancer. 

A certain group of people is at an increased risk of developing this cancer. The risk factors of prostate cancer are:

  • Older age 
  • Family history of cancer
  • Obesity 
  • Genetic factors 
  • History of smoking 
  • Sexually transmitted infections 
  • Prostate inflammation 

What are the different prostate cancer stages?

Prostate cancer stages help in detecting how much cancer has progressed. Your healthcare provider will analyse your cancer stage to offer the best treatment for prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is categorised into four different stages:

Stage 0 – In this stage, cancer cells are not very distinct and aggressive. They are present in a tiny area and do not show bothering symptoms. 

Stage 1 – In stage 1 of prostate cancer, the cancerous cells are present inside the gland. Highly effective treatment can be offered at this phase. 

Stage 2-3 – If cancer has advanced to stage 2 or 3, it implies that the cells have spread outside the prostate gland as well. The nearby tissues of the prostate gland are affected at this stage. 

Stage 4 – This is the most advanced of all prostate cancer stages. By this time, cancer spreads to other body parts such as the lungs and bones.  

What is the diagnosis for prostate cancer treatment?

Prostate cancer treatment can be successfully given if the right diagnosis happens early. Men who are at a higher risk of developing this cancer should start their screening process soon. Doctors perform a variety of tests to diagnose prostate cancer:

Digital rectal exam (DRE): A DRE is a simple exam in which a doctor examines the prostate through the rectum. 

Laboratory tests and imaging: You may be indicated to take a couple of blood tests and urine tests. You may also have to undergo imaging tests such as MRI, CT Scan and X-rays depending upon your condition. 

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: PSA is a very specific test that helps in the detection of prostate cancer. Your healthcare provider will assess a blood sample to test the levels of PSA (a protein produced by the prostate gland). High levels of PSA indicate more likelihood of prostate cancer. 

What are the different treatments for prostate cancer?

The best treatment for prostate is unique for every patient. The team of medical doctors will decide the right treatment for you based on your age, overall health and stage of cancer. 

The different treatments for prostate cancer are:

  1. Watchful waiting: Watchful waiting or active surveillance is an approach in which doctors do not offer proactive treatment but analyse your health regularly. It is a helpful method when prostate cancer symptoms and treatment are not aggressive. If your cancer worsens or causes further trouble then your doctor will decide which treatment to follow. 
  2. Surgery: Prostate surgery is known as prostatectomy. In this procedure, surgeons remove the partial or entire prostate gland in order to eliminate cancer. Prostatectomy can be done through traditional open surgery or laparoscopy. 

In an open prostatectomy, surgeons make a large incision in the lower abdomen area. Through this incision, they access the prostate gland. Along with the tumour, a small number of nearby tissues are also removed. 

Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive method. In this procedure, surgeons make small incisions in the lower abdomen. A thin tube (attached with a camera) called the laparoscope is inserted through one incision. Surgeons use this medical device to locate cancer in the prostate gland. 

  1. Radiation therapy: In this prostate cancer treatment, doctors make use of radioactive ways to kill cancerous cells. There are two ways to offer this treatment.
  2. Brachytherapy: A brachytherapy is an innovative procedure to offer radiation therapy. In this procedure, doctors implant a small number of radioactive seeds inside the prostate to destroy cancer.
  3. External beam radiation:  External beam radiation is commonly used for prostate cancer. Surgeons direct high-energy radiation beams to the prostate gland externally in this technique.
  4. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a conventional cancer treatment in which specific medicines are used to stop the spread of cancer. This treatment approach is mostly used in conjunction with other methods. 
  5. Hormonal therapy: Another best treatment for prostate cancer includes hormonal therapy. Cancer cells present in the prostate gland utilise male hormones to spread more rapidly. Doctors use particular hormones to stop the production of testosterone. This blockage of hormones leads to a reduction in the growth and spread of cancerous cells gradually. 

Things to consider before prostate cancer treatment 

Every man should take into regard the following while choosing a treatment for prostate cancer.

  • If you are at a high risk of developing prostate cancer, you should start the screening by 40-45 years of age. 
  • You should discuss all the treatment options with your healthcare provider and consider your best option. 
  • Most of the different treatments for prostate cancer would have side-effects. You should talk to your doctor about their management. 
  • You must also take into consideration how your recovery will look like. 

The concluding note

Prostate cancer can significantly impact your physical, emotional and sexual health. You should monitor your health frequently and adopt a healthy lifestyle. This illness can be prevented with a well-balanced nutritious diet, regular exercise and early screening. It is important to learn about prostate cancer symptoms and treatment to make the most suitable choices. 

The CK Birla Hospital offers the best treatment for prostate cancer in Gurgaon. You can book an appointment with Dr Shalabh Agrawal, best urologist and andrologist at the CK Birla Hospital, Gurgaon for more information or personalised guidance. 

Also, read: Everything you need to know about prostate enlargement: Benign prostatic hyperplasia

Dr. Shalabh Agrawal
Author: Dr. Shalabh Agrawal
Dr Shalabh Agrawal is a leading urologist in Delhi NCR. He is armed with over 15 years of clinical experience and over 10000 urological surgeries. His areas of expertise include minimally invasive and laser treatment of kidney stones, endoscopic/laser prostate surgeries, microsurgical urological procedures, urogynaecology, male sexual disorders amongst others.
 
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