Prostate cancer is a common type of cancer that occurs in the prostate – a small gland located just below the bladder. Although all men are at risk for prostate cancer, there are several factors that can put you more at risk of the disease.
The prostate gland is the part of the male reproductive system that is responsible for producing fluid that makes up a part of semen to nourish and transport sperm. The muscles of the prostate also allow the semen to be forcefully expelled during ejaculation. The prostate gland tends to naturally increase in size with age, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, which is not the same as prostate cancer but may result in similar symptoms. Other changes can also occur, such as prostatitis, which causes inflammation of the prostate gland.
Age is the greatest risk factor for prostate cancer. The disease is more common in men over 50 and the older a man is, the greater the chance of him getting this type of cancer.
If there is a family history of prostate cancer, particularly a first degree relative, such as a father, brother, or son, this can increase an individual’s risk of developing the disease. Genetic risk factors may also increase the risk of developing prostate cancer if any relatives in three generations on either the mother’s or the father’s side of the family have had prostate cancer, or breast, ovarian, or pancreatic cancer.
Some hereditary conditions can raise a person’s chances of developing high-grade prostate cancer and other types of cancers, such as breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers. One of the most common is hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome, which is caused by a genetic mutation and can be passed down in families.
African American Background
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African American men have a greater risk of developing prostate cancer than other men. They are also more likely to get prostate cancer at a younger age with the disease more likely to be at an advanced stage when it is found. African American men are also at greater risk of developing a more severe type of prostate cancer than other men.
Other factors can increase a person’s risk of getting prostate and different types of cancer. These include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. If you’re concerned about your risk of developing prostate cancer, you should discuss it with your doctor.
Should I Have A Prostate Cancer Screening?
Many men with prostate cancer never experience symptoms, have a good quality of life, and may never know they even had the disease. However, prostate cancer screenings can be an effective way to find cancers that may be at high risk for spreading if not treated and to detect cancers in their early stages when treatment is often most effective.
Prostate cancer screening is a personal choice, but it may be worth considering for men between 55-69 years who are at greater risk of developing the disease. The pros and cons of screening, along with possible tests and treatments, should be discussed with a doctor first.
What Does Screening Involve?
Screening means testing for cancer before any symptoms are present. A prostate screening test usually involves a type of blood test, called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test and sometimes a digital rectal exam (DRE).
A PSA test measures the level ofthe PSA – a substance made by the prostate – in the blood. PSA levels can be higher in men with prostate cancer. However, other factors, such as age, race, genetics, certain medications, and other prostate conditions can affect the PSA level, causing it to become elevated.
It is possible to feel the prostate gland from the rectum using a finger. In some cases, a DRE may be recommended by the doctor. This involves them inserting a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to check the prostate gland for any obvious abnormalities that could indicate cancer, such as abnormalities in texture, shape, or size.
If any abnormalities are detected, other tests, such as an MRI fusion-guided biopsy and ultrasound may be recommended to diagnose or rule out prostate cancer.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Symptoms for prostate cancer can vary.Some men may not experience any symptoms, while others may have:
- Trouble starting urination
- Weak/interrupted flow of urine
- Pain or burning during urination
- Urinate more often (especially at night)
- Difficulty fully emptying the bladder
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Pelvic, hip, or back pain, that doesn’t improve
- Pain during ejaculation
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (more commonly known as an enlarged prostate) and prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland), which may be caused by a bacterial infection,can cause similar symptoms to prostate cancer. This is because the prostate gland surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder), and if the prostate becomes enlarged, it can restrict the urethra, causing pain or discomfort and other urinary symptoms.
Treatment for Prostate Cancer
Because some prostate cancers grow very slowly, they do not always cause symptoms or complications and may not even require treatment. Low-grade prostate cancers may just require active surveillance, such as regular follow-up blood tests, DREs, and biopsies to monitor the cancer for any progression.
However, some aggressive types of prostate cancer can grow quickly, meaning it is more likely to spread and cause problems. If the cancer is aggressive, treatment may be recommended to stop the cancer spreading, which could include surgery to remove the prostate, radiation therapy, ablative therapies, immunotherapy,chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted drug therapy, or a combination of treatments.
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment in Phoenix, AZ
If you have risk factors for prostate cancer, or would like to discuss improving prostate health, visit our compassionate, highly skilled provider at Ironwood Urology. Board-certified urologist Dr. Desi Avila provides a range of non-surgical and surgical treatments for men’s health conditions, including annual prostate exams to detect prostate problems quickly andincrease your chances of successful treatment.
To learn more or to book a consultation with our experienced urologist, call us today at (480) 961-2323, or request an appointment online.