Diseases are presently rampant nowadays. A number of these diseases can be cured but unfortunately, even with our modern technology and magnificent brains for scientists, there are some diseases that are still incurable. Some of these diseases are Ebola, Polio, Lupus, Influenza, AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and some Cancers.
One specific disease that has been getting much attention these days is Prostate Cancer. We surely have heard about it and have a vague understanding of what Prostate Cancer is all about. But what exactly is prostate cancer? Who are prone to this disease? How does it affect us? What are the symptoms and signs? Could it be cured? What tests are available for this kind of disease? What you are about to read aims to attend to these questions.
The Prostate Gland
From the name itself, we could determine that this cancer attacks the prostate gland. The prostate gland is an organ which is located at the base of the urinary bladder and surrounds the first part of the urethra. The urethra serves as the passageway of urine when it drains from the bladder to exit through the penis.
The prostate gland has many functions. One of which is to help control urination. How? It presses directly against the part of the urethra that it surrounds which then helps in urination. Another function of the prostate gland is to produce the substances that are found in semen such as minerals and sugar. As people age, the prostate gland also increases in size, which would then may cause some problems such as difficulty in urinating especially at night.
Now that we know what the prostate gland is, we are now ready to dig deeper into prostate cancer. Let us first define what prostate cancer is. Prostate cancer is defined as a malignant tumor that is made up of cells from the prostate gland. The tumor slowly grows in the gland for many years. During this period, the tumor does not show any visible symptoms or abnormalities. Because of this, a person would not readily know if he has prostate cancer or not. Like any other disease, cases of prostate cancer vary.
It is actually lucky for some to have this disease to spread slowly. Why? This is because there are cases where prostate cancer behaves differently and prefers to spread rapidly instead. When prostate cancer spreads rapidly, it may cause a significant change in the span of life of those people who have acquired the disease. Then, worse news keep on coming to people who have this disease. One of which is that when the cancer advances, it could spread to the surrounding areas and tissues and could even spread to other parts of the body such as the other organs. A situation that we wouldn’t want to happen to us or to anyone we love. Think of a car that encountered an accident and had most of its parts affected. The used to be flashy and speedy car may now be considered a useless, pain in the butt wreck. That’s how the body will be, if the cancer spreads all over the body.
Men and Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is actually common to men. Asian and Native American males have low rates of prostate cancer while African Americans have the highest risk. Though there are men who have low rates or risks, this should not be used as an excuse to the tests and corresponding steps that should be taken in order to prevent prostate cancer. As what we have observed from other diseases, there should always be room for chance and doubt. That is why many experts recommend that when a man reaches the age of forty, he should make give time to an annual appointment with the doctor to be screened for prostate cancer.
The good thing for men is that there are now different tests that could be done to determine if a person has prostate cancer. There are also possible signs and symptoms that could be observed to check if a man has acquired this disease. Here are the signs and symptoms:
A weak or interrupted flow of urine.
Difficulty in urinating.
Pain sensations during urinating.
Blood in the urine or in the semen.
Pain in the back and hips that don’t go away.
Yes, you’ve read it right, even ejaculation could be affected by prostate cancer.
Of course, symptoms are practically signs of the storm to come. And in order to be sure if the symptoms you are experiencing really directs to prostate cancer, it is best to visit your doctor and undergo examinations. There are ways to confirm if one has acquired prostate cancer. Here are some tests on how to determine if someone, unfortunately, has a prostate cancer.
1. Digital Rectal Exam
2. Prostate-Specific Antigen Test
3. Ultrasound Examination
Digital Rectal Exam
Let us first talk about the Digital Rectal Exam. Why should a man bother to undergo this exam? Well, here’s the catch. If a man determines early that he has prostate cancer, the better his chances of living much longer. If a person undergoes this exam, he could quickly take steps on how to avoid serious prostate problems in the future. Even though this exam may be described as difficult, uncomfortable, unpleasant, intimidating and very awkward for men, this exam could really make a difference in a man’s life. Just like when women undergo exams for the breasts, men have to diligently undergo this exam too.
By undergoing this exam, a man could ensure that he gets to have a long life. Besides, the exam wouldn’t make you less of a man when you do it. Undergoing this exam could also ensure that he stays healthy especially for his family. What more could a man ask for? A simple exam is all that it takes.
How Digital Rectal Exam works?
The patient is informed that the doctor must insert a finger into the patients’ rectum so that he could examine the prostate gland.
The patient is then asked to stand, feet apart and face the examination couch.
He is then asked to bend forward and rest his elbows or arms on the couch.
The doctor would wear surgical glove and cover it with lubricant.
The doctor would assure the patient that he would feel a bit of pressure which is just normal.
The doctor would then insert a finger into the rectum in a downward angle, as if pointing to the belly button.
The doctor would then check the prostate gland for any abnormalities. For example, lumps or hardness in the prostate gland could be a sign of prostate cancer.
DURATION: These procedures may seem very long but in reality, it only takes a minute or so.
Prostate-Specific Antigen Test
The second exam that would be tackled is the Prostate-specific antigen test or more commonly known as the PSA test. This test should be taken alongside the rectal exam. In this test, the level of the PSA in blood is tested. Prostate-specific antigen is an enzyme which is produced by the cells of the prostate gland. Having low prostate-specific antigen levels is just normal for men, however, when a man has high prostate-specific antigen levels that could mean that he may have conditions such as inflammation of the prostate and enlargement of the prostate. Though there is no evidence that these conditions directly cause cancer, it is possible that men develop cancer while not having these two conditions as well. However, this test must be taken so that doctors would have enough information and basis to assume that a patient has prostate cancer. When taken together, the rectal exam and the PSA test can help the doctors in detecting prostate cancer in patients who show no symptoms of the said disease. Another use for this test is to determine if the cancer has recurred. Because this test determines the PSA levels, an increase of the antigen could be a sign that there is a recurrence.
How PSA test works?
The technician or the doctor would use an antiseptic to clean above a vein on your arm.
A blood sample would then be drawn from that area.
The blood sample would be sent to the laboratory for analysis.
DURATION: Obtaining blood takes about three to five minutes.
When the results are released, the doctor would then determine if the patient has normal ranges of PSA. When the result is high but the rectal exam seems normal, the test would have to be taken again to make sure if there is really something wrong.
The third test that should be taken is the Ultrasound Test. What is this test? You may have encountered this term before but just to refresh your memory, here is the definition of ultrasound. The term ultrasound refers to sound that has higher frequency or pitch that humans are able to hear. This frequency is then sent into the body by an instrument which is called the transducer. The sound then bounces off the internal organs and then the returning echoes are converted into images on a monitor. This test has been used for many years now and has no known harmful effects to the human body. Ultrasound is another test that must be taken alongside the first two tests that I have mentioned. Why? This is because an ultrasound would give an image of your prostate gland, therefore providing better image and basis for the doctors.
How does an ultrasound test work?
The patient would be asked to lie on his side with the knees bent.
A disposable cover would be placed over the transducer.
The transducer would be lubricated.
It would then be inserted through the anus and placed into the rectum.
The instrument would be pointed at different angles to have the best view of the prostate gland.
An image would then be seen on the monitor.
The radiologist would then bring the result to the doctor and then the doctor would interpret the result.
DURATION: Ultrasounds are usually completed in less than 20 minutes.
Last but not the least is biopsy. If there are suspicious lesions found, a biopsy may be required. This type of test requires the use of needles and is an invasive procedure. There are two types of biopsy procedures that could be used to diagnose prostate cancer. The first one is the transrectal biopsy and the second one is transperineal biopsy. urotrin compoziție
How does transrectal biopsy work?
An ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum to show where the tumor is.
A thin needle is inserted through the rectum and into the prostate.
A small amount of tissue would be collected.
A pathologist would then view the tissue under a microscope and look for cancer cells.
How does transperineal biopsy work?
A thin needle would be inserted through the skin between the scrotum and rectum and into the prostate.
A sample of the tissue would be collected.
A pathologist would view the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells.
Treatment and Recovery
Panic should not be the first reaction. While there are incurable cases, we must also bear in mind that there are certain types of prostate cancer that can be cured. We must also take into consideration that there are certain factors that may affect the prognosis of the patient, which is why we have to act accordingly.
Here are some factors that might affect the chance of recovery of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer:
The stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed.
The age and health of the patient.
The history of the disease, whether it has just been diagnosed or if it has recurred.
Here are also some treatment options for prostate cancer:
These are some of the tests that men should undergo so that they could determine if they are cancer free. Though some of these tests are unpleasant to the patient, these tests must be considered as a must in the life of men. By undergoing these tests, a man could be sure that he is healthy and he could make his life longer. Most of all, a man should do this for himself so that he would have the chance to achieve his goals.