Prostate cancer is known to manifest in elderly men who will notice changes in urination, blood in urine, difficulty in sexual relations or constant back pain. Any persistence in these symptoms will require that you get a doctor’s examination which is likely to reveal an enlarged prostate. It could also indicate the more serious condition of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is prevalent in men over 65. Family history, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of developing the disease.
- When an examination shows an enlarged prostate, the doctor will recommend a screening test called the PSA test to measure the level of a particular protein produced by the prostate gland cells. High PSA levels might be an indication of the possibility of prostate cancer which will need a biopsy to confirm.
- Prostate cancer is caused by an uncontrollable growth of cells in the prostate gland. A biopsy is used to diagnose prostate cancer to determine whether the cancer is slow growing or aggressive. Low risk (slow growing) prostate cancer can just be watched through an “active surveillance” process. Men with low-risk cancer do not advance to the point that they need treatment. Some men have passed away from natural causes in old age and found to have lived with prostate cancer that was undiagnosed. Aggressive prostate cancer, on the other hand, requires aggressive treatment.
The importance of active surveillance
- Many treatments often affect the quality of life both emotionally and physically. Over-treatment of low-risk prostate cancer is not necessary and therefore not recommended. Preferably, an active surveillance approach can be adopted. Active surveillance involves undergoing periodic PSA tests, repeat biopsies and rectal exams. Any changes in the test results or an increase in symptoms will require treatments for localized prostate cancer such as radiation and robotic surgery. A prescribed treatment would consider the general health, age, side effects and emotional well-being of the patient.
When caught in its early stages, prostate cancer has a very high cure rate. Doctor-patient communication is necessary to assure an anxious patient that their concerns are taken seriously. The patient needs to be educated about the side effects of unnecessary treatments when they insist on getting treated. The goal is to treat prostate cancer when treatment is necessary to improve the patient’s quality of life and to monitor and treat patients with minimum side effects as possible.