Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men, yet many men fail to identify prostate cancer in its early stages. However, men who know the symptoms of prostate cancer may be better equipped than others to identify the disease and prevent it from spreading throughout the body.
There are many warning signs of prostate cancer in men. Common prostate cancer warning signs include:
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Slow or weak urinary stream
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Rectum pain or pressure
- Pain in the back, chest or hips
- Numbness or weakness in the feet or legs
If a man experiences one or more of the aforementioned symptoms, it is important to consult with an expert urologist right away. That way, a man can receive a proper prostate cancer diagnosis and determine the best treatment option.
How Is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?
Prostate cancer screening is essential. Because the earlier a man identifies prostate cancer, the sooner he can treat this issue.
A urologist performs several tests to analyze a patient and provide an accurate prostate cancer diagnosis. These tests include:
- Physical Exam: A urologist conducts a physical exam to learn about a patient’s current health. During a physical exam, a urologist also reviews a patient’s medical history and learns about a patient’s symptoms.
- Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): A urologist uses a DRE to identify prostate cancer. To perform a DRE, a urologist inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum, and he or she feels for any bumps or hard areas on the prostate. A DRE often helps a urologist determine if cancer is present on one or both sides of the prostate. If cancer is present on both sides of the prostate, this indicates the cancer likely has spread to nearby tissue.
- Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test: A urologist performs a PSA blood test primarily to screen for prostate cancer in men who display no symptoms. If prostate cancer develops, a man’s PSA level usually rises above 4. Men who have a PSA level between 4 and 10 have about a 25% chance of having prostate cancer, and the risk of having prostate cancer rises to 50% in men who have a PSA level that exceeds 10, the American Cancer Society (ACS) notes. On the other hand, men who have a PSA level below 4 may still have or develop prostate cancer.
- Transrectual Ultrasound (TRUS): A urologist uses a TRUS to examine the prostate of a man who has a high PSA level or an abnormal DRE result. During a TRUS, a small probe that is approximately the width of a finger is lubricated and inserted into the rectum. Next, the probe produces sound waves that enter the prostate and create echoes. The probe detects the echoes, and a computer uses the echoes to produce a black and white image of the prostate.
- Prostate Biopsy: A urologist typically performs a prostate biopsy if a PSA blood test or DRE indicates a man may have prostate cancer. During a prostate biopsy, a urologist removes small samples of a patient’s prostate and examines them under a microscope.
After comprehensive testing is completed, a urologist uses the Gleason system to assign a score to a patient’s prostate cancer. If prostate cancer has a Gleason score of 6 or less, it is considered well-differentiated or low-grade. Comparatively, prostate cancer with a Gleason score of 7 is moderately differentiated or intermediate-grade. Or, if prostate cancer has a Gleason score of 8 to 10, it is poorly differentiated or high-grade.
A patient’s Gleason score may dictate a urologist’s treatment recommendations. As such, a urologist allocates significant time and resources to perform in-depth testing and determine the correct Gleason score. He or she then offers personalized prostate cancer treatment recommendations.
How Is Prostate Cancer Treated?
There are many safe, effective prostate cancer treatments. These include:
- Active Surveillance: Involves monitoring prostate cancer closely. During active surveillance, a patient may receive a PSA blood test and DRE every six months, as well as an annual prostate biopsy.
- Surgery: Involves the removal of the entire prostate gland and surrounding tissue (radical prostatectomy).
- Radiation Therapy: Involves the use of high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells.
- Cryotherapy: Involves the use of cold temperatures to freeze and eliminate prostate cancer cells.
- Hormone Therapy: Involves reducing the number of male hormones (androgens) in the body or trying to stop these hormones from causing prostate cancer cells to grow.
- Chemotherapy: Involves the use of anti-cancer drugs that are injected into a vein or given by mouth; chemotherapy drugs enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body.
- Vaccination: Involves the use of the Sipuleuchel-T (Provenge) vaccine to boost the immune system and help it destroy prostate cancer cells.
- Bone-Directed Treatment: Involves the use of bisphosphonates and other drugs to address cancer that has spread to the bone (bone metastasis) and related problems.
A urologist requests a full patient evaluation before offering a prostate cancer treatment recommendation. He or she is also happy to respond to a patient’s prostate cancer treatment concerns and questions and help this individual make an informed decision.
Is Prostate Cancer Preventable?
Prostate cancer is not preventable, and it can affect any man, at any time. Fortunately, men who identify prostate cancer early may be able to overcome this issue faster than others, which is reflected in recent ACS data.
ACS reports four out of five prostate cancers are found during the local stage, i.e. when the cancer is located exclusively in the prostate. Meanwhile, the relative five-year survival rate of patients with local prostate stage cancer is nearly 100%. Conversely, the relative five-year survival rate of patients with distant stage prostate cancer, i.e. prostate cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes, bones or other organs, is roughly 29%.
For those who believe they may be dealing with prostate cancer, it is always better to err on the side of caution. By meeting with a urologist, a man can receive a prostate cancer diagnosis. And if prostate cancer is discovered, there is no need to worry. A patient and urologist can work together to treat prostate cancer and prevent this issue from recurring.
Choose La Peer Health Systems for Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men, and approximately one in 41 men die from prostate cancer, ACS indicates. Yet most men who receive a prostate cancer diagnose can successfully treat the disease. In fact, ACS points out more than 2.9 million men have received a prostate cancer diagnosis and are still alive today.
Ultimately, prostate cancer is a serious disease, but it is treatable. If a man detects prostate cancer in its early stages, he can often address the cancer before it spreads throughout the body. Thus, if a man is concerned about prostate cancer, it is paramount to schedule a urological consultation as soon as possible.
When it comes to prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment, there may be no better option than the Department of Urology at La Peer Health Systems. Our team of courteous, highly trained urologists works with patients to perform clinical and research testing. We also strive to provide a prostate cancer treatment that is minimally invasive and delivers proven results. To schedule a prostate cancer screening with our team of expert urologists, please contact us today at 855.360.9119.