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Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that affects the prostate, a walnut-sized gland in front of the rectum, just below the bladder. The prostate gland is responsible for producing the seminal fluid that helps transport sperm cells from the testes.
Prostate cancer happens when normal cells in the prostate gland change into abnormal cells and grow out of control.
Prostate cancer ranks as the second most common type of cancer in men worldwide next to lung cancer. In the Philippines, a third of new cancer cases in 2018 were prostate cancer.
It’s one of the leading types of cancer among men in the country, and around one out of 100 men die before the age of 75.
While there are as yet no clear indications on the direct cause of prostate cancer, age is the most common risk factor.
In the Philippines, about six out of 10 men diagnosed with the disease are 65 or older, and there were rarely men younger than 40.
The risks involved with prostate cancer, are similar to those of other types of cancer:
Prostate cancer symptoms are not easily apparent. While it mostly affects older men (usually over the age of 50), early detection still plays a huge part in the successful treatment of the disease.
Men with prostate cancer may not immediately show symptoms in their early stages, but as their cancer progresses, they may present the symptoms below:
While prostate cancer tends to progress slowly, there are still risks of metastasizing. That is: prostate cancer spreading to other nearby parts of the body, such as the bladder or bones.
For that reason, it’s best to approach your physician and get screened early if you are aged 50, or if you have any of the risks or the symptoms listed above.
There are a number of ways to diagnose prostate cancer. Prostate cancer screening is done prior to the onset of symptoms for high-risk individuals, while there are also separate diagnostic tests that can be done for individuals who already present some prostate cancer symptoms.
When found early through screening tests, prostate cancer can be addressed, and its impact on the quality of life of the individual can be minimized.
One such test is the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test — a blood test that can measure a substance that’s produced by the prostate. High levels of PSA can indicate an existing condition in the prostate, which can include prostate cancer.
However, elevated PSA levels could also be caused by:
Because of this, screening is typically done for individuals who are at more risk of developing prostate cancer.
Typically, men at age 50 and above are recommended to undergo screening based on their risk. But even those as young as 45 may be asked to undertake screening if they have immediate relatives who were diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age.
The PSA test could also be supported by several other tests, such as a digital rectal examination (DRE). During this test, a physician typically inserts a gloved finger into a patient’s anus to assess any abnormal physical attributes of the prostate.
A biopsy may also be ordered to extract and examine prostate gland tissue for possible cancerous growth.
After a biopsy, and a diagnosis of prostate cancer, doctors will usually determine the extent of the cancer’s progression in the patient’s body.
This is called staging, where several tests will be done to identify whether or not the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Based on the stage of the prostate cancer, a doctor will be able to prescribe treatment options that will could most effectively address the cancer.
Based on the biopsy results and the succeeding staging evaluations, patients will be offered treatment plans accordingly.
This will largely depend on whether the cancer has spread to other areas of the body or not, and may include:
These treatment plans will also take into consideration the state of the patient, including their age, expected recovery and life expectancy, stage of the cancer, as well as the presence of other co-morbidities or existing conditions that might impact the treatment and progression of the cancer.
These treatments may also vary depending on the expertise of the doctor approached for the treatment plan, as different physicians might approach and address it differently.
As with any condition, it’s best to discuss with your doctor and find out the risks and side effects of your options beforehand.
Preventing any type of cancer, including prostate cancer, is all about reducing risk by living healthy; after all, most risk factors o cancer are lifestyle-related.
Consider the below lifestyle changes, such as:
With knowledge of prostate cancer symptoms and treatment, an actionable plan for prevention is possible.
Due to the nature and incidence of prostate cancer in the country, it’s advisable to be proactive in managing your risk factors. This will help you to be diagnosed and subsequently treated at an early stage.
Learn more about men’s health, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Cancer: Overview https://www.who.int/health-topics/cancer#tab=tab_1 Accessed June 9, 2020
What is Urological Health? https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/prostate-cancer Accessed June 9, 2020
Si Mang Jun Ay Nailigtas sa Prostate Cancer http://www.philcancer.org.ph/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Si-Mang-Jun-Ay-Nailigtas-sa-Prostate-Cancer2.pdf Accessed June 9, 2020
Philippines: Cancer Mortality Profile https://www.who.int/cancer/country-profiles/phl_en.pdf Accessed June 9, 2020
How is Prostate Cancer Treated? https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/basic_info/treatment.htm
What is Screening for Prostate Cancer? https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/basic_info/screening.htm
How is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed? https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/basic_info/diagnosis.htm
What is Prostate Cancer? https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/basic_info/what-is-prostate-cancer.htm
Who is at Risk for Prostate Cancer? https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/basic_info/risk_factors.htm
WHO – Philippines Fact Sheets https://gco.iarc.fr/today/data/factsheets/populations/608-philippines-fact-sheets.pdf
Prostate Cancer – Overview https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prostate-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20353087
The 10 Commandments of Cancer Prevention https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/the-10-commandments-of-cancer-prevention