The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland located near the bladder and a part of the male reproductive system. The primary function of the gland is to produce fluid for nourishing the sperms. The fluid from the prostate and seminal vesicles together creates semen that helps in transporting sperms. A cancerous development in the gland is called prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is one of the major cancers among men in India. Due to awareness, however, the early detection and survival rates have increased.
Prostate cancer is slow-growing cancer and the symptoms may not visible for a long time. The common symptoms, however, include:
- Blood in the semen or urine.
- Pain during urination.
- Painful ejaculation.
- Frequent urination.
- Interrupted urine flow.
- Discomfort when sitting.
- Pain in the area.
- Enlarged prostate.
- Erectile dysfunction.
The exact cause of prostate cancer is not unknown. The possible causes, however, are:
- Age: Men above 50 years of age are more prone.
- Family history.
Prostate cancer is diagnosed by the following:
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: This blood test will determine the levels of PSA in the blood. PSA is a protein produced by prostate glands. A higher level of this protein may indicate cancer.
- Imaging tests: Various imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI will be performed to gauge the size, location, and stage of the tumour.
- Biopsy: The doctor will retrieve a small tissue from the prostate and examine for the presence of cancerous cells.
The treatment strategy for prostate cancer depends on the stage and type of cancer, age, and overall health of the patient. As it is slow-growing cancer, it may not need immediate treatment. In such cases, the doctor will follow active surveillance and treatment.
- Active Surveillance: The doctor will closely monitor the cancer growth through active surveillance. This will include periodic PSA tests, rectal examinations or biopsies. Once these results indicate growth, the doctor will start with the therapy.
- Surgery: Depending on the patient’s condition, the doctor will remove the prostate gland along with some surrounding healthy tissues to prevent it from spreading.
- Radiation therapy: High energy X-rays will be used to destroy cancer cells.
- Cryoablation: In this minimally invasive procedure, the doctor will insert fine needles into the prostate. Low-temperature gases will be introduced into the prostate through these needles. After some time, another gas will be introduced to reheat the tissues. These repeated cycles of freezing and thawing kill the cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: High doses of anti-cancer drugs will be administered to destroy cancer cells. In some cases, chemotherapy is combined with radiation therapy to remove cells from the body.
- Hormone therapy: The doctor will also administer certain hormones to reduce the growth of prostate glands.
- Targeted therapy: Certain drugs will be administered to target specific protein particles in the cancerous cells. This therapy is considered in chances of relapse.