Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men in South Africa.
* Prostate cancer develops when normal cells in the prostate become abnormal and start growing uncontrollably, forming a tumour or mass. The exact reason why normal cells become abnormal is unclear. If left untreated, these cells continue to multiply uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body.
* Prostate Cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men in South Africa.
* Prostate cancer mainly affects men over the age of 50, and your risk increases as you get older.
* Prostate cancer is rare in men under the age of 40.
* Prostate cancer is not as aggressive as other cancers. If this slow-growing cancer is diagnosed and treated and managed correctly, the survival rates are high.
* Family history: Having a father or brother with prostate cancer increases the risk.
* Age: Older age increases risk.
* Diet: Possibly an increased risk with diets high in unsaturated animal fats.
Prostate cancer is slow growing so it may be asymptomatic for a few years.
Key signs include:
- Frequent urination
- Weak or slow urination and dribbling
- Burning urination
- Blood in urine and semen
- Difficulty in getting an erection
- Painful ejaculation
- Pain or stiffness in the lower back, thighs or hips
Many of these symptoms are also associated with a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia). If you experience any of the above symptoms, discuss those with your doctor.
* Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
The doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum and feels the prostate through the rectal wall to check for hard or lumpy areas.
* PSA Blood test
The blood test determines the level of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). PSA is a protein specifically produced by prostate cells and an elevated level may indicate a higher chance of having cancer.
Based on the outcome of the DRE and PSA level from the blood test, a biopsy is performed to confirm a prostate cancer diagnosis. During a biopsy a tissue sample is taken using a needle and examined by a pathologist.
The treatment of prostate cancer differs from patient to patient based on age, risk factors, stage of disease and grade. Options include: surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy.
* Source: dischem.co.za