Prostate cancer is common in men, but very treatable. Dr. Michael Hardacre of the Renown Institute for Cancer explains how early detection is a must.
About one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. However, this cancer is very treatable when detected early. Michael Hardacre, MD, radiation oncologist with Renown Institute for Cancer, is here to explain more about prostate cancer screenings and their role in early detection.
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a gland that only males have, and it makes part of the seminal fluid.
Prostate cancer begins when the cells in the prostate gland start growing uncontrollably due to a change in the cell’s genes. It’s the most common type of cancer in men, after skin cancer.
Researchers are working to find what leads to the disease. Certain types of prostate cancer have been found as hereditary, meaning it’s passed on through genes, while most types of prostate cancer have been found to be acquired, meaning developed later in life.
What are some of the signs of prostate cancer?
Common signs of prostate cancer include:
- Frequent urination
- Weak urine flow
- Painful urination or inability to urinate
- Blood in urine or semen
- Painful ejaculation
- Erectile dysfunction
If you notice any of these signs, talk with your primary care doctor. Although it may be intimidating to talk about any of these signs or symptoms, but earlier prostate cancer is detected, the better the options for treatment.
How can you screen for or detect prostate cancer?
Well the good news is that prostate cancer can often be found before symptoms appear.
There is a blood test available that measures levels of a prostate-specific antigen in the blood. If the results come back with anything concerning, then additional testing would be recommended.
A transrectal ultrasound can also be used, which is usually painless and only takes about 10 minutes to complete. This exam gives the doctor an image of the prostate to measure its size, which can help determine the density of the prostate-specific antigen. If this test comes back with any suspicious results, then your doctor may recommend a biopsy.
How is prostate cancer treated?
Depending on each case, treatment options for men with prostate cancer might include:
- Watchful waiting or active surveillance
- Radiation therapy
- Cryotherapy (cryosurgery)
- Hormone therapy
- Vaccine treatment
- Bone-directed treatment
It’s important to discuss all of the treatment option with your doctors, including goals and possible side effects, to help make the decision that best fits your needs.
Some important things to consider when choosing a treatment option also include:
- The stage and grade of your cancer
- Your age and expected life span
- Any other serious health conditions you have
- Your feelings (and your doctor’s opinion) about the need to treat the cancer right away
- The likelihood that treatment will cure your cancer (or help in some other way)
- Your feelings about the possible side effects from each treatment