PROSTATE CANCER

Healthy prostate (left) vs prostate cancer (right)

PROSTATE CANCER

What is prostate cancer?

  • Prostate cancer is a cancer that occurs in the prostate, which is a small 'walnut' gland in men that produces semen.

  • There are types of prostate cancer that are spreading slowly and may require minimal treatment. Some types of prostate cancer are much more aggressive and can spread rapidly.

  • Early detection of prostate cancer when it is still affecting only the prostate gland will have a better chance of being completely cured when it is treated.

 

  • Prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body may still be controlled, but it cannot be fully cured.

Position of the prostate

What are the indications?

Often, there are no signs that can be seen in a person when he has prostate cancer that is still in its early stages.

Prostate cancer that has passed the early stages may show signs of the following:

  • Discomfort in the pelvic area

  • Urinary problems

  • Bone pain

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Blood in semen

  • Weak urine flow

What are the causes?

Medical experts still unable to pinpoint the main cause of prostate cancer. They think it's most likely due to your genetic complicated interactions and your environment such as:

  • Age increase: The more you age, the higher the probability of getting prostate cancer.

  • Family history of prostate cancer: Your risk of developing prostate cancer increases if there are family members who have blood relationship with you had prostate cancer in the past.

  • Obesity: Being fat increases the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Digital rectal examination (DRE)

How to avoid & control it?

Among the steps that can be taken to prevent prostate cancer are:

  • Perform your prostate cancer screening with a doctor at:

    • Age 40: If there are two or more family members who have blood relationship with you had prostate cancer in the past.

    • Age 45: If there is one family member who has blood relationship with you had prostate cancer in the past.

    • Age 50: If none of your family members who have blood relationship with you ever had prostate cancer in the past.

The frequency of subsequent screenings will be based on your first screening result.

  • Exercise regularly to lose weight and maintain a healthy body.

  • Regularly check for signs of prostate cancer. Get treatment while it is at its early stage.

How it is detected?

If any signs of prostate cancer arises, talk to your doctor about your specific situation. With the doctor's advice, you can decide whether the prostate cancer screening is right for you.

 

PSA test combined with DRE can help identify prostate cancer in their early stages:

  • Prostate specific antigen test (PSA): Your blood sample will be taken and analyzed for PSA (which is the material produced by your prostate gland). If PSA content is higher than normal, you may have prostate infections, inflammations or cancer.

  • Digital rectal examination (DRE): During DRE, the doctor will check your prostate adjacent to the rectum. If your doctor finds any abnormalities in the texture, shape or size of the prostate gland, you may need further examination.

If the DRE or PSA test detects something that is abnormal, your doctor may recommend further tests for examination of prostate cancer such as:

  • Prostate Biopsy (collecting prostate tissue samples and analyzed in laboratories to determine the presence of cancer cells)

 

  • Transrectal Ultrasound (a small device that produces sound waves will be used to produce a picture of your prostate gland for examination purposes)

 

  • MRI method

 

If your prostate cancer is found to have spread to other parts of the body, your doctor may make the following imaging tests throughout or part of your body to identify the location of cancer cells:

 

  • Ultrasound

  • Bone scan

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

  • Positron emission tomography (PET scan)

  • Computed tomography examination (CT scan)

How it is treated?

Immediate treatment may not be necessary for men who have been diagnosed with low risk prostate cancer. On the contrary, the doctor will suggest active surveillance, where you need to follow-up checks to monitor the progression of your cancer. Discuss with your doctor what type of treatment is best for your specific situation.

Radiation therapy for prostate cancer

Among the methods of prostate cancer treatment are:

  • Radiation therapy: Using high-powered radiation (such as X-ray, proton) to kill cancer cells.

  • Surgery to remove prostate: Whether manually or using a robot.

 

  • Freezing prostate tissue: Involves methods of freezing prostate tissues to kill cancer cells.

  • Chemotherapy: Using medicines to kill rapidly growing cells including cancer cells.

  • Hormone Therapy: Treatment to control testosterone levels in your body to kill cancer cells or to prevent cancer cells from growing & spreading.

When do you need to see a doctor?

  • Make an appointment with your doctor if you recognize signs of prostate cancer.

  • Each hospital has different methods for screening prostate cancer.

  • Discuss the prostate cancer screening with your doctor. Together with a physician, you can decide what is best for you.

Malaysia has been voted numerous times as the best destination to seek quality affordable healthcare. Find a hospital in Malaysia that suits your specific situation here: Hospital Guide

How to get ready with your appointments?

For your preparation, a medical specialist may ask you some questions as follows:

  • Are the signs of your illness occurring continuously or occasionally?

  • How severe are the illness signs on your body?

  • Since when did you begin to experience the signs of the illness?

  • Do you have family members who have had the disease?

  • What triggers the signs of your illness to be more severe? (if any)

  • What do you usually do to relieve any signs of your illness?

 

What you can do to prepare before the appointment is:

  • List the signs of your illness.

  • Know any restriction that needs to be done before the appointment. Make sure to ask first what to do before appointment (such as limiting your diet, etc.).

  • List all the medicines, vitamins or supplements you consume.

  • If possible, invite family members or friends to be with you. Sometimes we find it difficult to remember all the information during the appointment. Your companion might just help you with this.

  • List your personal information that can help your doctor in investigating your illness (such as major stresses in your life or any changes in your life recently).

  • List all the questions you would like to ask your doctor.

Here are some general questions that you can ask your doctor:

  • What are the possible causes for signs of illness that appear on me?

  • What method of screening should I take? Do I need to make any necessary arrangements before doing the screening?

  • What is the severity of my illness?

  • Should I get a second doctor's opinion of my condition?

  • What are the treatment options that are suitable for my condition?

  • Are there any side effects for each treatment?

  • How does each treatment option affect my daily life?

  • How big is my possibility of getting completely healed from the disease if I undergo the treatment?

  • Do I need to undergo the treatment immediately without delay?

  • How long will the treatment last?

  • How often should I get examined after treatment?

  • What are the complications that I need to face in the future?

  • What other alternatives are available apart from the medicines you prescribed? (if any)

  • Do I need to make any changes to my lifestyle? What nutrition and level of activity are appropriate for my condition?

  • What else can I do to protect my health?

  • I have other health problems. How can I best manage this situation?

If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to ask the doctor during your appointment.

Updated: February 02, 2019

References:

  1. Beirman, Robin., Engel, Roger. An A-Z of Symptoms and Signs. Palgrave Macmillan Australia, 2009.

  2. Papadakis, Maxine A., McPhee, Stephen J., Rabow, Michael W. CURRENT Medical Diagnosis and Treatment. 58th ed. McGraw Hill Professional, 2018.

  3. Porter, Robert S. The Merck Manual of Patient Symptoms: A Concise, Practical Guide to Etiology, Evaluation and Treatment. Wiley, 2008.

  4. Griffith, Henry W. Complete Guide to Symptoms, Illness & Surgery. 3rd ed. Body Press/Perigree Books, 1995.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019. Prostate Cancer. [https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/]. Accessed 23 January 2019.

  6. National Cancer Institute. 2019. Prostate Cancer. [https://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate]. Accessed 17 January 2019.

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