The prostate gland, a small walnut-shaped organ in men that secretes seminal fluid, is where prostate cancer typically arises. While early prostate cancer may not cause any symptoms, as the cancer progresses, it can lead to a range of symptoms, including difficulty urinating, decreased urine flow, blood in the urine or semen, pain in the pelvic area or lower back, and erectile dysfunction. In this blog, we will delve into the different symptoms of prostate cancer, how it is diagnosed, and the treatment options available. It’s important to note that if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is essential to speak with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
What is meant by Prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the prostate gland, a small walnut-shaped gland located in the male reproductive system, just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate gland produces a fluid that is a part of semen and helps to nourish and transport sperm. When the prostate gland’s cells start to grow out of control and form a tumor, prostate cancer develops. If left untreated, the cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones and lymph nodes, which can lead to serious health complications. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men, and early detection is key to successful treatment.
Types of prostate surgery
There are several types of prostate surgery, each with its own benefits and risks, depending on the individual patient’s needs and medical history. Below mentioned are some of the most common types of prostate surgery:
- Radical prostatectomy: This is the most common type of prostate surgery, and involves the complete removal of the prostate gland, including the seminal vesicles and some surrounding tissue. This can be done using open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, or robotic-assisted surgery.
- Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP): This is a minimally invasive surgery that involves removing a portion of the prostate gland that is blocking the urethra, using a scope inserted through the penis.
- Transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP): Like TURP, this surgery involves making small incisions in the prostate gland to relieve pressure on the urethra.
- Laser surgery: This type of surgery uses a laser to remove or vaporize prostate tissue that is blocking the urethra.
- Prostate cryotherapy: This is a minimally invasive surgery that involves freezing and destroying cancerous tissue in the prostate gland using extremely cold temperatures.
- HIFU (High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound) therapy: This is a non-invasive procedure that uses ultrasound waves to destroy cancer cells in the prostate gland.
Each type of surgery has its own advantages and risks, and the best option for a patient depends on several factors, including the stage of cancer, the patient’s overall health, and their personal preferences. It’s important for patients to discuss their options with their doctors to determine the best course of treatment for them.
Prostate cancer Symptoms
The symptoms of prostate cancer can vary from person to person, and in some cases, early-stage prostate cancer may not cause any symptoms at all. However, as the cancer spreads, it can produce a number of symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty in urine or a weak urine flow
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Erectile dysfunction
- Pains and aches in the upper thighs, hips, or lower back.
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, and having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. However, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to speak with your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. The prognosis and quality of life of a patient with prostate cancer can be considerably improved by early detection and treatment.
Prostate cancer Causes
The exact cause of prostate cancer is not fully understood, but there are several factors that may increase a man’s risk of developing this disease. Below mentioned are some of the most common risk factors:
- Age: Prostate cancer is rare in men under 40 years old, but the risk increases significantly as men get older, with most cases diagnosed in men over the age of 65.
- Family history: Men with a family history of prostate cancer, especially a brother or father, are more likely to develop the disease.
- Race: Prostate cancer is more common in African American men than in men of other races, and tends to develop at a younger age and be more aggressive.
- Obesity: Men who are overweight or obese may have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer, and the cancer may be more advanced when it is diagnosed.
- Hormones: High levels of the male hormone testosterone may contribute to the development of prostate cancer.
- Environmental factors: Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins, such as cadmium, may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
It’s important to note that having one or more of these risk factors doesn’t mean that a man will definitely develop prostate cancer. However, being aware of these risk factors and taking steps to manage them, such as maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular check-ups with a doctor, can help to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
Prostate cancer diagnosis typically involves several steps to confirm the presence of cancer and determine the extent and aggressiveness of the cancer. Below mentioned are some of the most common steps in the diagnostic process:
- Digital rectal exam (DRE): During this exam, the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for any abnormalities in the prostate gland.
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: This blood test gauges the prostate gland’s protein, PSA, concentration. High levels of PSA can be an indication of prostate cancer, but other factors, such as an enlarged prostate, can also cause elevated PSA levels.
- Biopsy: If the DRE or PSA test suggests the presence of cancer, a biopsy may be recommended. During this procedure, a small sample of prostate tissue is removed using a needle and examined under a microscope to confirm the presence of cancer.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests may be used to determine the extent of the cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.
- Gleason score: This score is used to grade the aggressiveness of the cancer based on the appearance of cancer cells under the microscope.
Once a diagnosis of prostate cancer is confirmed, the doctor will use this information to determine the stage of the cancer and develop a treatment plan tailored to the individual patient’s needs and preferences.
Prostate cancer surgery
Surgery is one of the main treatment options for prostate cancer, especially for cancers that have not spread beyond the prostate gland. Below mentioned are the most common types of prostate cancer surgery:
- Radical prostatectomy: This surgery involves the removal of the entire prostate gland, as well as some surrounding tissue and the seminal vesicles. The goal of this surgery is to remove all the cancerous tissue. Radical prostatectomy can be performed using open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, or robot-assisted surgery.
- Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP): This surgery is used to relieve urinary symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate, but it can also be used to remove small, early-stage prostate cancers. During TURP, a surgeon inserts a resectoscope through the urethra to remove prostate tissue.
- Cryosurgery: This is a minimally invasive procedure that involves freezing cancerous tissue to destroy it. A thin needle is inserted through the skin between the scrotum and anus and into the prostate gland, where it delivers extremely cold gas to freeze the cancer cells.
- Focal therapy: This is a newer type of prostate cancer surgery that is still being studied. It involves targeting and treating only the cancerous part of the prostate gland, while leaving the rest of the gland intact.
In conclusion, prostate cancer may not always cause symptoms in its early stages, which is why regular screening is important for early detection. Some common symptoms of advanced prostate cancer include difficulty urinating, blood in the urine or semen, pain in the back, hips, or pelvis, and erectile dysfunction. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or are at high risk for prostate cancer due to age, family history, or other factors, it’s important to speak with your doctor about screening and further evaluation. Dr. Saket Narnoli, a board-certified urologist, is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, and can provide personalized care and guidance for patients at every stage of the disease.