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prostate-cancer

Prostate Cancer

What is Prostate Cancer?

Listed amongst the top 10 leading cancers in India, prostate cancer primarily affects men lying above 65 years of age. The prostate is a small gland, near about the size of a walnut, that lies between the bladder and the penis. It is responsible for the secretion of fluids that make up the semen. It is a very common type of cancer that usually progresses at a very slow pace, rarely spreads beyond the gland. However, some types can be quite aggressive and metastasize quickly.

What are the symptoms that you need to look out for?

  • Frequent urge to urinate, especially during the night
  • Traces of blood in the urine and semen
  • Experiencing pain or burning sensation while urinating
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain in the back and hips
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Weak flow of urine
  • Dribbling urine involuntarily
  • Unexplained loss of weight
    • What causes prostate cancer?

      Prostate cancer is believed to be a result of abnormal changes in the DNA of the prostate cells, which cause them to grow and multiply uncontrollably. These abnormal cells continue to live even when the normal cells die and eventually result in the formation of a tumour.

      What are the various risk factors associated with prostate cancer?

      • Age – Prostate cancer is less likely to affect men below 40 years of age and the risks significantly increase post 50 years. Elderlies above 65 account for 6 out of 10 cases of prostate cancer
      • Family history – Prostate cancer can run in families which clearly points towards the involvement of inherited or genetic factors. However, there are many cases where the cancer has affected people without any family history of the same.
      • Obesity – Though being obese does not elevate your overall risks of developing prostate cancer, it has been found that prostate cancer tends to be more aggressive in obese men.

      Screening & diagnosis

      Various modalities available for the screening and diagnosis of prostate cancer are listed below:

      • Digital rectal exam (DRE) to examine the shape, size and texture of the gland
      • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to assess the amounts of PSA in your bloodstream
      • Imaging modalities like ultrasound and Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which help to generate detailed images of the prostate
      • Biopsy of the tissue sample collected from the prostate

      Treatment:

      The treatment plans are curated, keeping in mind the specific needs of the patients. These include:

      Local treatments – Local treatments like surgery and radiation therapy aim at removing cancer from a specific area of the body where it is localized. These can help to completely get rid of the cancer when it is in an early stage.

      • Surgery – It involves the removal of the prostate gland along with the affected lymph nodes. This procedure is commonly referred to as prostatectomy and is further categorised into radical prostatectomy, laparoscopic/robotic prostatectomy, bilateral orchiectomy and transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).
      • Radiation therapy – It involves the use of high-energy radiations to target and destroy cancerous cells. External beam Radiation therapy is the most common type of radiation therapy that is given with the help of a machine by focusing x-ray beams on the targeted area from outside. In some cases, the doctors may use protons instead of radiation beams. This is known as Internal Radiation therapy or brachytherapy which involves the introduction of radioactive material directly into the prostate of the patient to generate high-intensity radiations from within.

      Focal therapies – These involve a number of minimally invasive treatments that aim at destroying small tumours, leaving the rest of the prostate gland intact. These use heat, cold and other methods to address the cancer.

      • Cryosurgery – Also known as cryotherapy or cryoablation, it involves the use of a metal probe to freeze the cancerous cells.
      • High-density focussed ultrasound – It uses high-intensity sound waves to target the cancer cells.

      Systemic treatments – It involves the use of certain medication to destroy the cancer cells. These are prescribed by your oncologist and include the following

      • Hormonal therapy
      • Targeted therapy
      • Chemotherapy
      • Immunotherapy
      • Radiopharmaceuticals
      • Bone-modifying drugs

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