Prostate Cancer- Time to Man Up!
Prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer in Australia. Every day 32 men learn they have prostate cancer, with one man every three hours losing his battle to the disease. Each year over 3000 Australian men die from prostate cancer exceeding the amount of people lost to breast cancer, but men do not feel equally informed about the symptoms and dangers of the disease.
So what is the prostate? The prostate is an organ located just below the bladder and in front of the bowel which produces fluid which protects and enriches sperm. The prostate grows in size through a man’s life.
The prostate can become infected, it can grow too large though remain benign (non-cancerous) or it can become cancerous. Symptoms may include the following:
- Waking frequently at night to urinate
- Sudden or urgent need to urinate
- Difficulty in starting to urinate
- Slow flow of urine and difficulty in stopping
- Discomfort when urinating
- Painful ejaculation
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Decrease in libido (sex urge)
- Reduced ability to get an erection
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms medical review is recommended.
Prostate cancer can be detected in a number of ways. The most common screening routine is a digital rectal examination (DRE) which, while uncomfortable, takes less that a minute to complete. Blood tests can reveal a protein called PSA- Prostate Specific Antigen, which is often rises in prostate cancer. Imaging or biopsy may often be the next step for investigation for the disease.
As the early stages of prostate cancer can often have no symptoms routine monitoring is recommended, particularly for men who are older or who have a family history of the disease. Whilst many prostate cancers are slow growing, there are more aggressive cases which have a poorer outlook.
There are many treatment options which are being developed all the time. Depending on the size and aggressiveness of the tumour, the general health and wishes of the patient and other factors treatment options may include: watch and wait (do nothing for now- active surveillance), radiotherapy, hormone treatment, or radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate). The various treatments have differing success rates and side effects that are best discussed with a specialist.
An innovative new approach is the robot assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy where keyhole surgery is conducted with the assistance of a robot-like machine.
If you are a male its clear it is time to be better informed and to man up and get your prostate checked- early detection helps aid treatment success!
See https://www.prostate.org.au/articleLive/ for further information.