Medically reviewed by Dr. Riaz Ali Shah.
UNDERSTANDING PROSTATE CANCER
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer but do you know about it enough; prostate and prostate cancer? Let’s help you find out.
What is the prostate gland?
The prostate is a small organ about the size of a walnut that is located directly outside the bladder. It performs a variety of functions, the most important of which is the secretion of fluid to aid sperm in surviving the female reproductive tract. As one ages, the prostate may grow larger and it’s a normal part of aging for most men.
What is prostate cancer?
Approximately one in every seven men develops a condition in which the prostate cells cease to respond to the normal regulatory systems. As a result, uncontrolled cell growth occurs, which is referred to as cancer. But wait. Cancer is a scary word for every sane person, however, learning more about the possibilities of cancer in a certain part of the body can make you fear it less, especially when it is in an organ like the prostate for which early detection can be life-saving. But there is another but, which should not scare you but direct you to be more mindful of your body. Cancers can often behave very differently from person to person. While some men will never be affected by cancer cells in their prostate even if they do not receive treatment, others may succumb to their disease despite aggressive therapies. Prostate cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed forms of cancer. Many prostate cancers progress slowly and remain contained within the prostate gland, where they are unlikely to cause serious harm. While some types of prostate cancer are slow-growing and require little or no treatment, others are aggressive and spread rapidly. Early detection of prostate cancer — while it is still contained within the prostate gland — provides the best chance for successful treatment. If prostate cancer is detected early, when the disease is localized to the organ, nearly 100% of patients survive five years and 98% survive ten years. However, when cancer has spread, the 5-year survival rate is less than 30%. That is a pretty compelling incentive to detect cancer early.
How do you know if you have prostate cancer?
The majority of men with early prostate cancer have no symptoms at all. It is detected through an increase in a certain protein in the blood or through a prostate exam. Subsequent symptoms may include altered urination frequency or intensity, blood in the urine, weight loss, and sometimes pain.
While there has been considerable debate regarding the appropriate timing of prostate screening, the American Urologic Association currently recommends that PSA screening should be discussed with patients aged 55 to 69, as these patients tend to benefit the most from screening. Screening is not recommended for low-risk men between the ages of 40 and 54 or over the age of 70. However, when determining the appropriate age to begin screening, risk factors such as the family history of prostate cancer should be considered. If symptoms suggestive of prostate gland problems exist, regardless of age, screening is an important part of the diagnostic workup.
How to maintain good prostate health?
Men should focus on prostate health through a greater focus on overall health. What is good for your heart is also good for your prostate. Do what you know you should be doing and is right for your body. You must not overly stress about this but being mindful and vigilant of your body and habits is a great place to start amid the chaotic, often stressful everyday routines. Get to your ideal body weight. Eat right. Exercise. Don’t smoke or drink. If you’re over 55 of age, get yourself tested once in a while because remember, early detection is the key to survival.
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