The history of mankind and the world has been intertwined with the outbreak of epidemics and diseases . Their impact changed the lives of generations and the evolution of medical science. But through it all, the human spirit has prevailed and fought on with hope and with new armour to its armamentarium. Vaccines, antibiotics , anaesthetics, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and invasive surgeries have helped us fight on.
History of Prostate Cancer:
In the 21st century, the rising global epidemic is Cancer. It has been found that more than 65% of the deaths worldwide is due to non communicable diseases like cancer diabetes , diseases of the heart and lungs. In India, according to the National Cancer Registry, by 2020, number of people afflicted with cancer would be 13 lakhs. This is a sharp increase of 14% as against those afflicted with cancer in 2015. Having said this, cancer awareness is still low in India and many deaths are undiagnosed.
The incidence of certain type of cancers are on the rise in India and prostate cancer is one of them. Prostate cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer death among men worldwide. Prostate cancer affects only men and the incidence is higher in men over the age of 50 and the type of cancer affecting Indian men is more aggressive.
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About Prostate Gland:
The prostate is a walnut sized gland in men situated just below the bladder. It is linked with the urinary system and stores the seminal fluid – a milky fluid that nourishes sperms. As men grow older, they face problems with the prostate. The three most common problems are inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis), prostate enlargement (BPH) and prostate cancer. Prostatitis and BPH are not necessarily signs of, or lead to cancer, but men suffering from it can also develop prostate cancer. It is also important to understand that all prostate related problems do not mean prostate cancer.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is caused when cells start to grow in an uncontrolled way in the prostate. While most prostate cancers are slow growing, some tend to grow relatively fast. The abnormal cells are likely to multiply and sometimes spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly the bones and the lymph nodes. It tends to spread beyond the prostate thus affecting the life of the individual.
Most men with early prostate cancer do not have any symptoms. Since prostate cancer is so prevalent and symptoms may not be present, it is important that men over the age of 50 be aware of the disease and seek appropriate medical advice. The appropriate course of treatment changes as the disease advances.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer:
Typically, prostate cancer is asymptomatic and hence any urinary problem must be evaluated by a urologist. A person might suffer from:
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Weak urine flow
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Urine flow that starts and stops( or is difficult to start or stop.)
- Pain in the lower back, hips and thighs
- Difficulty achieving an erection
Are You At Risk?
Men with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop the disease.
The chance of getting prostate cancer goes up sharply as a man gets older. It is very rare in men younger than 45. However with advanced screening and life style changes, men as young as 40 have been diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer.
Risk of prostate cancer increases by two times if your father, brother or uncle has it. If more than one first degree relative has cancer, risk increases by five to eleven times.
Some studies suggest that men who eat a diet high in animal fat or meat may be at an increased risk of prostate cancer. Men who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may have a lower risk.
How is Prostate Cancer Detected?
85% of prostate cancer can be detected by a simple blood test called PSA test and a digital rectal examination (DRE) by a urologist . The PSA test determines the prostate specific antigen count in the blood. Higher level of PSA may indicate prostate cancer. The urologist feels the prostate through the back passage for any abnormality. Hardness in the prostate may indicate prostate cancer. Incase of signs of abnormalities in the PSA test and DRE, trans urethral ultrasound guided biopsy (TRUS biopsy ) is done to confirm prostate cancer.
Treatment of Prostate Cancer:
Depending on the stage of cancer, age and general health of the patient, treatment options for men with prostate cancer may include:
- Active Surveillance and watchful waiting.
- Surgery – Open, Laparascopic or Robotic Surgery.
- Radiation Therapy.
- Hormone Therapy.
Prostate Cancer is curable if detected early. Cancer cannot be fought alone. It affects the individual, the care giver, the family and the community. Awareness about early detection is the need of the hour.
Pic courtesy: drsoram.com
( Content Courtesy: Indian Prostate Cancer Foundation)