Identifying Symptoms of and Treatments for Prostate Cancer
A malignant tumor found along the prostate gland (a small gland located around a man’s urethra) is defined as prostate cancer. It is the most common cancer-causing death for men 75 years of age and older, but is a rare occurrence for men 40 years of age and younger. Some, but not all, risk factors include being 60 years of age or older, being of African American decent, a family history of prostate cancer, excessive alcohol use, a diet that is high in animal fat and veterans that have been exposed to certain chemicals such as agent orange.
PSA testing, a common blood test to prescreen for prostate cancer, can often detect the presence of cancerous cells before symptoms may even begin. However, a high PSA test can also be caused by an enlarged prostate that is a common and benign issue that many men can experience as they age.
Other common prostate cancer symptoms include difficulty urinating, leakage occurring after urinating, blood in the urine or semen and bone pain, particularly in the pelvic area. The presence of bone pain may suggest an aggressive or advanced stage of cancer as the tumors have spread beyond the prostate.
Along with the PSA test, a doctor may perform a rectal exam to check for an enlarged prostate. Additional testing may include a CT scan or bone scan and a biopsy of suspicious areas would be required to confirm the diagnosis of prostate cancer and its current stage.
A Gleason Grade will be given to determine the types of prostate cancer treatments. Cancers, which are graded between two and five, are considered low-grade and may only require surgery and a period of close monitoring as treatment. An oncologist may also recommend radiation therapy. More aggressive cancers or cancer that has spread beyond the prostate may be graded anywhere between six and 10 and, therefore, require a more thorough treatment plan including surgery, radiation, hormone therapy and chemotherapy. Hormone therapy may also be used to provide a higher quality of life to those who are not eligible to receive treatment.
Patients that have undergone treatment for prostate cancer may experience long-term effects including sexual issues and control of urination. It is recommended for patients to continue regular check-ups after completing treatment to monitor PSA levels and potential abnormal growths.