What is Prostate Cancer and how is it treated?
Prostate Cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men. It affects men only because the prostate gland is found in male and not female reproductive systems. The function of the prostate gland is to produce some of the fluid that makes up semen. The muscles of the prostate help to propel the semen during ejaculation. The prostate gland weighs around 20 grams, about the size of an apricot or a walnut and is located just below the bladder.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal malignant cells develop in the prostate gland. When these cells begin to multiply rapidly and uncontrollably, they may spread to other organs around the prostate gland. Low grade prostate cancer is hard to diagnose because most men can live for years without noticing any symptoms, while high grade prostate cancer is quick to spread and is life- threatening.
Symptoms and Signs of Prostate Cancer
There are usually no early warning signs for prostate cancer because the growing tumour does not push against anything to cause pain. So, for many years the disease may go unnoticed. That is why screening for prostate cancer is so important for all men and their families.
While there are usually no early warning signs, in some rare cases prostate cancer can produce symptoms that one should be aware of. They are:
- Frequent urge to urinate -especially during the night
- Discomfort when urinating
- Presence of blood in the urine or semen
- Pain in the upper thighs and hips or bones in the lower back
- Finding it hard to urinate even when you have the urge
- Erectile dysfunction
- Pain during ejaculation and urination
- Unexplained loss of weight
- Swelling of the prostate gland
- Shortness of breath
It is important to note that the prostate gland can increase in size as a man grows older, so these symptoms may in fact, not indicate that one has prostate cancer. This is another reason why men should have their prostate checked for cancer annually.
What Causes Prostate Cancer?
Although the exact cause of Prostate Cancer is not known, the following factors increase the risk of a man getting this cancer:
- Age: The risk of getting prostate cancer increase as a man grows older. Men in their 50’s and 60’s are at a higher risk of getting the disease than men in their 40’s and below.
- Family History: If a man’s family has a history of this type of cancer, his risk of getting the disease can be twice as high as that of a man whose family does not have a history of prostate cancer.
- Previous history of Cancer: Men who have had cancer in other parts of the body such as the kidney, bladder, or thyroid have a slightly higher risk of getting prostate cancer.
- Prostatitis: This is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation in the prostate gland and can also increase the risk of man getting Prostate Cancer.
- Diet: This applies especially to men who eat a lot of processed meat or food high in fat.
- Obesity: Obesity is linked with prostate cancer, including high-grade prostate cancer.
- Digital Rectal Examination: The doctor inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland through the wall of the rectum, to check if there is any abnormal growth. If there is, the doctor orders other tests. This test is not conclusive on its own.
- Prostate Specific Antigen test (PSA blood test): This blood test is used to measure the level of protein in the blood. Increased PSA levels are an indication that a man may have prostate cancer but is not conclusive. Other tests are necessary.
- Biopsy: This test involves taking a sample tissue from the prostate gland and looking at it under a microscope to determine whether there are any cancer cells.
- Transrectal Ultrasound: This test uses high frequency sound waves to get images of the prostate gland inside the body.
- MRI scan: This test also helps in to get images of the prostate gland by using magnetic and radio waves.
Treatment Options for Prostate Cancer
1. Surgery: There are various types of surgery used for prostate cancer. It depends on which part of the prostate gland is being removed. These are the various types of surgeries:
a) Removing the entire prostate gland (Radical Prostatectomy),
b) Removing the testicles (Orchidectomy), and
c) Removing the inner part of the prostate gland (Trans Urethra Resection of the Prostate – TUR/ TURP).
2. Radio Therapy: This involves the use of high-energy waves to kill the cancer cells. It may be external (using X-rays) or internal (using small radioactive pellets).
3. Hormone Therapy: This treatment is used to treat cancer that has spread far and cannot be cured through radiation or surgery. Drugs are taken to reduce male hormones in the body especially testosterone.
4. Chemotherapy: This treatment uses anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells in the body.
5. Immunotherapy: This treatment seeks to boost the immune system and so help the body to attack prostate cancer cells. For more information on Immunotherapy please see our previous blog article: http://intmedicaltreatment.com/blog/immunotherapy
The following may reduce the risk of contracting prostate cancer:
- A healthy Diet: Eat meals that are low in fat and containing more vegetables and fruits. Eat more fish and drink green tea.
- Get enough Vitamin D to keep testosterone levels in check and so help prevent the prostate gland from growing bigger.
- Do regular exercises.
- Get regular check-ups and talk to a doctor about the risks of getting prostate cancer.
- Increase antioxidant consumption.
- Do not smoke or consume a lot of alcohol
Treating prostate cancer in its early stages is less costly and more likely to be successful.
How IMT can help
We, at International Medical Treatment (IMT), are experienced facilitators who can link you with the best prostate cancer specialists in our partner hospitals in India, Dubai and Thailand.
We are here to help. By using IMT you will be assured of the following:
- You will get a free, dedicated client coordinator who will help you coordinate with our partner hospitals to provide you, for free, with treatment plans and quotes to allow you to make an informed decision about which hospital and treatment is right for you.
- All our partner hospitals are internationally accredited (JCI) and are the top hospitals in each country. We only work with the market leading hospitals.
- If you arrange things through us you will never pay more than if you were to contact the hospitals directly.
- No waiting times.
- No hidden fees, no obligations- receive a free, dedicated coordinator from IMT to help coordinate and book your international medical treatment.
Find Out More
To find out more about IMT and the services available visit our website at www.intmedicaltreatment.com or call us today on +254 0740 409 727. You can also visit our office at The Mirage, 1st Floor, Tower 2, Chiromo, Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya.