Understanding Prostate Cancer, Its Warning Signs Risk Factors And Treatment Options
Diagnosis of prostate cancer is done through a biopsy and the results indicate the aggressiveness of the disease and thus the timing of treatment. Read here to know more.
Prostate cancer initially may not be harmful and may not exhibit any symptoms
- Prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland in men
- Prostate cancer usually develops from the outer portion of this gland
- Some of the prostate cancer varieties may be aggressive
The estimated cases of cancer in India may rise to 13.9 lakhs by the end of this year according to a recent report released by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Centre for Disease Informatics & Research (NCDIR), and this incidence is expected to rise to 15.7 lakhs by 2025. The various factors implicated for this increasing incidence of cancer in various parts of the body are sedentary lifestyle, increasing stress, physical inactivity, unhealthy food habits and pollution and environmental factors. A large number of men post the age of 50 years are being detected with prosattate cancer, one of the most common cancers in men.
Understanding prostate cancer
Prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces a component of seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. It surrounds the bladder outlet. Prostate cancer usually develops from the outer portion of this gland, growing gradually within the gland before breaching the capsule and growing out of gland. The cancer initially may not be harmful and may not exhibit any symptoms. Some of the prostate cancer varieties may be aggressive, requiring treatment. It is imperative to detect prostate cancer at an early stage, when a treatment strategy can be implemented.
Warning signs of prostate cancer
Unfortunately, there are no significant warning signs of prostate cancer till a later stage. However, in the more advanced stages, a prostate cancer patient can manifest with following symptoms:
- Painful or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation
- Lower urinary tract symptoms (obstructive or irritative)
- Sudden erectile dysfunction
- Blood in urine or semen
Prostate cancer risk factors
- Age: The risk of prostate cancer increases as you age
- Family history: If men in your family have had prostate cancer, your risk for prostate cancer is increased
- Obesity: Obesity is also a factor for prostate cancer to be diagnosed in advanced form and this is more difficult to treat
Prostate cancer: Treatment options
Diagnosis of prostate cancer is done through a biopsy and the results indicate the aggressiveness of the disease and thus the timing of treatment. The next step in treatment involves a process called staging focussing on investigations to look at the extent of disease. If disease is found confined to the prostate box, a treatment is possible. The treatment options include:
Radical Prostatectomy: Surgical option involves complete removal of the prostate gland along with lymph glands in the prostate box. This can be done through an open, laparoscopic or robotic assistance surgery. The best option for surgical treatment is robot assisted radical prostatectomy enabling excellent functional recovery. Contrary to popular myth that robotic surgery is performed by robot, this robot is a master-slave system. The surgeon performs surgery sitting on a console with 3-D vision and his hand movements are refined and transferred via robotic arms on the patient side. The robot assistance also enables the surgeon to have ten times magnified, 3-D image of the surgical field through a high-end camera, thus increasing surgical precision. This robotic procedure gives patients the benefits of shorter recovery period, minimal blood-loss and post-operative pain, and minimises complications.
Radical Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy is equally effective in treating prostate cancer. With recent refinements in radiotherapy techniques, the side effects of radiotherapy have been minimised. Newer radiotherapy options like Cyberknife are also available now. Contrary to its name, Cyberknife is a robotic radiosurgery system through which radiation therapy is given as focused beams of intense energy, customized to the size and shape of the prostate gland to destroy cancer cells. This advanced form of radiation therapy is a pain-free, incision-less treatment, offering quick recovery with minimal hospital stay. In a simple procedure, the patient is required to lie down for a 45-60-minute therapy session, relax, and let the beams of radiation emitted by the Cyberknife destroy the cancer cells.
1. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
2. Avoid food supplements
3. Stay active and exercise daily
4. Maintain a healthy weight which is right to your height
5. Be aware of your risk factors and watch out for potential symptoms
(Dr Rajesh Ahlawat, Group Chairman Urology and Andrology, Kidney and Urology Institute, Medanta)
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