One of the most prevalent forms of cancer among men is prostate cancer. But how much about the disease do you actually know?
The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nurtures and transports sperm. If prostate cancer is detected early – when it is still confined to the prostate gland — the chances of successfully treating it are high. The sobering thing about prostate cancer, however, is that it may cause no signs or symptoms in its preliminary stages. More advanced cases of cancer do exhibit signs, such as:
- Difficulty urinating
- Decreased force in the urine stream
- Blood in the urine
- Blood in the semen
- Bone pain
- Losing weight without trying
- Erectile dysfunction
If you have any of these persistent symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Possible Causes and Complications
While it is unclear what causes prostate cancer, medical experts know that it begins when cells in the prostate develop changes in their DNA. These changes compel the cells to grow and divide more rapidly than normal cells, and the abnormal cells continue to thrive, whereas other cells would die. In time, the abnormal cells form a tumor that can grow and invade nearby tissue, eventually spreading to other parts of the body.
Those at greatest risk of developing prostate cancer are:
- Men who are50 years or older.
- Men of color. For reasons not yet understood, prostate cancer is more likely to be aggressive or advanced in African American men.
- Those with a history of prostate cancer in their family.
- Men who are obese compared with those of a healthy weight. Among overweight men, the cancer is more likely to be aggressive and more likely to return after initial treatment.
Complications associated with prostate cancer and its treatments include a malignancy that metastasizes (spreads) to nearby organs, incontinence, and erectile dysfunction, especially due to surgery, radiation, or hormone treatments.
Ways to Lower Your Risk of Developing Prostate Cancer
You can take certain preventive measures to help protect yourself from prostate cancer. These include:
- Maintaining a healthy diet filled with plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Choosing vitamin-rich foods over supplements
- Exercising at least five days a week
- Maintaining a healthy weight
If you are at a higher risk, you may also want to consult with your doctor about medications used to control prostate gland enlargement or other treatments designed to reduce your chances of developing prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Treatment in Phoenix, Arizona
Diagnosis and treatment begin with a screening test to help find cancer at an early stage when it is less likely to spread and may be easier to treat.
One option is a PSA (protein-specific antigen) test. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland. The elevated blood level of PSA can be an indication of prostate cancer, although cancer is a possibility at any PSA. The PSA test involves drawing blood, usually from the arm, and sending the sample to a lab for testing.
In addition to a PSA test, Dr. Desiderio Avila at Ironwood Urology can perform ultrasounds and biopsies in the office, including an MRI fusion-guided biopsy of the prostate, which can help diagnose prostate cancer sooner and more effectively. This technology combines the images from a 3D ultrasound and 3D MRI to find tumors and perform a targeted biopsy all at the same time.
If cancer in prostate runs in your family or you have other risk factors, it is especially important to be screened at regular intervals. By getting an annual prostate exam, Dr. Avila can detect any prostate problems sooner and increase your chances of successful treatment. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Avila, call (480) 961-2323 or request an appointment online.