In the case of prostate cancer, nearly 100% of the men diagnosed in the early stages can be fully cured.
Q:Where is the prostate gland?
Dr:It is a small, walnut-sized gland found between the penis and the urinary bladder. It is just in front of the rectum. The urethra runs through the center of the prostate.
Q:What is the function of the prostate gland?
Dr:The prostate gland secretes fluid that protects and nourishes the sperm. At the time of ejaculation, this liquid is passed into the urethra and passed out along with the sperm as semen.
Q:How common is prostate cancer?
Dr:It is the second most common cancer in men (the first being skin cancer), with statistics saying that one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Q:Who is at risk for prostate cancer?
Dr:All men above the age of 55 can develop prostate cancer. Other factors that increase one’s risk include family history of prostate cancer, obesity, smoking and ethnicity with black men at a higher risk. Certain gene mutations can also cause prostate cancer.
Q:What are prostate cancer symptoms?
Dr:In its early stages, prostate cancer shows no symptoms. However, as the disease progresses you may notice some of these changes:
However, having any of these symptoms does not confirm a cancer diagnosis. But it’s better to get it checked out anyway. In its early stages Prostate cancer can be eliminated completely.
Q:Given that prostate cancer does not show symptoms in its early stages, is there a screening test available?
Dr:The Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and a Digital Rectal Exam can help detect a tumour in the prostate. If a tumour is found, subsequently, a biopsy is performed. This involves inserting a needle via the rectum to extract tissue from the prostate to be sent to the lab for testing. Men who are aged 55 and above can check with their doctor on the need for screening for prostate cancer.
Q:How effective is the PSA test in diagnosing cancer?
Dr:The PSA test is a screening for cancer. Blood is drawn from the person and PSA levels are tested. PSA is a substance naturally secreted by the Prostate. High PSA levels can be indicative of cancer, but it can also mean an infection, inflammation, or enlargement of the prostate. Hence, it is essential to follow this up with more tests to make a cancer diagnosis.
Q:What is the next step after being diagnosed with prostate cancer?
Dr:Once the doctor has confirmed that the person has prostate cancer, he/she will have to assess the extent to which the cancer has spread – has it limited itself to the prostate or has it metastasized. Prostate cancer can spread to nearby organs such as the bladder or the lymphatic system or even to the bones. Depending on the stage of the cancer, the doctor will determine the type of treatment required.
Q:What is the treatment for prostate cancer?
Dr:If the doctor determines that the prostate cancer will not grow further, he/she may not recommend any treatment at all. Instead, the patient will be asked to take regular PSA tests and prostate biopsies to keep a tab on the tumour. However, if the cancer is growing then prostate cancer treatment options include:
Depending on the stage of cancer, the mode of treatment changes to include a combination of the above-mentioned methods.
Q:What are the complications due to prostate cancer?
Dr:The two main complications that can be caused by prostate cancer and/or its treatment are Erectile Dysfunction and Incontinence. Medications, surgery, and methods to assist with erection and surgery are options to treat erectile dysfunction. Incontinence can be treated with medication, a catheter or surgery.
Q:What is the connection between Prostate Cancer and infertility?
Dr:In the initial stages Prostate cancer does not impact fertility or sex drive. However, as the disease progresses it can lead to erectile dysfunction. In certain cases, prostate cancer treatment can also affect fertility. If the prostate needs to be removed as a measure to prevent the spread of prostate cancer, then infertility is inevitable because the man will no longer be able to produce semen. Radiation therapy can also damage the sperm cells. Given the risk involved, men who wish to have children, must consider sperm banking prior to the commencement of cancer treatment. Discuss the same with your doctor.
Q:How curable is prostate cancer?
Dr:As with all cancers, the earlier it is diagnosed, the better are chances for treatment. However, in the case of prostate cancer, nearly 100% of the men diagnosed in the early stages can be fully cured. The reason being that prostate cancer progresses at a very slow rate and 90% of the time the cancer is detected in the local or regional stages.
SENIOR CONSULTANT – RADIATION ONCOLOGY
MBBS, MD R.T,