Important Facts: Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. It usually affects men after 55 years of age, but now is progressively found in men at a lower age group as well. The common problems arising in this gland includes benign (non-cancerous) enlargement or cancer of the prostate.
Prostate cancer grows slowly and initially remains confined to the organ. However, in certain cases the growth is rapid and can spread quickly to other organs. Early detection allows patients to choose from a range of treatment options with excellent outcomes.
- Older age
- Family history
- Trouble urinating
- Blood in semen
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Bone pain
- Erectile dysfunction
In many cases, prostate cancer causes no symptoms till it is advanced, so periodic checks with Digital rectal exam (DRE) and the Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is recommended. Elevated PSA levels can be an indication for cancer, infection, inflammation or non-cancerous enlargement. Trans-rectal Ultrasound is done for further diagnosis.
The biopsied tissues are examined to evaluate the grade of prostate cancer. Bone scan, CT, MRI or PET CT followed with Biopsy is done to confirm the diagnosis. Men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer may not require treatment right away. In few cases only active surveillance is required.
Surgery is an option for men with early-stage cancer that is found only in the prostate. It’s sometimes also an option for men with advanced prostate cancer.
There are several kinds of surgery to treat prostate cancer. Usually, the surgeon will remove the entire prostate and nearby lymph nodes. Various surgical options available are:
- Through a large cut in the abdomen: The prostate is removed through a long incision in the abdomen below the belly button. This is called a radical retropubic prostatectomy. Because of the long incision, it’s also called an open prostatectomy.
- Through small cuts in the abdomen: Several small cuts are made in the abdomen, and surgery tools are inserted through the small cuts. A long, thin tube (a laparoscope) with a light and a camera on the end helps the surgeon see the prostate while removing it. This is called a laparoscopic prostatectomy.
- Through a large cut between the scrotum and anus: The prostate is removed through an incision between the scrotum and anus. This is called a radical perineal prostatectomy. It’s a type of open prostatectomy that is rarely used anymore.
- TURP: A man with advanced prostate cancer may choose transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) to relieve symptoms.
The surgeon inserts a long, thin scope through the urethra. A cutting tool at the end of the scope removes tissue from the inside of the prostate. TURP may not remove all of the cancer, but it can remove tissue that blocks the flow of urine.