What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer, as the name suggests, occurs in the prostate area. The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland present in males that does the function of producing seminal fluids for sperms. It is the most common form of cancer in men worldwide. Prostate cancer stays in the prostate for a while and can spread to other body organs if proper treatments are not provided. When in early stages, prostate cancer is fairly treatable and can be completely eliminated.
There are usually no significant symptoms of prostate cancer. However, there are certain signs that can indicate that something is wrong. These signs may include but are not limited to frequent urinating, reduced control over urination, blood in urine, difficulty in ejaculation, and achieving an erection and painful urination. In advanced forms, cancer can cause abdominal pain and bone fractures. Prostate cancer can turn pretty severe if it keeps on spreading and reaches the spinal cord. So, having regular health checkups and consulting a doctor when any of these signs appear is very important.
Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer
Prostate diagnosis is a multi-level process. The first level includes screening and observing any abnormalities. If an abnormality is found, the patient is to go through several tests to confirm the presence of cancer.
For screening, there are two methods available. The first is Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) in which a doctor inserts a gloved and lubricated finger inside the rectum and manually feels the surface of the prostate through the rectum. A skilled and experienced doctor will be able to spot any irregularities right away. The second method is the PSA test. In this test, the presence of PSA (Prostate-specific antigen) in your blood samples is analyzed. Very high levels of PSA indicate the presence of prostate infection or cancer in the prostate.
To verify the results of the screening process, the patient is put through further tests. Ultrasound technology is used to create an image of your prostate through sounds. Another method is to collect a sample of prostate tissues and then examine them in labs to check the presence of cancer.
This is also known as a prostate biopsy. MRI fusion technology is used to carry on prostate biopsy smoothly without any complications. These diagnosis methods are often sufficient to reveal the presence of prostate cancer.
Treatments of Prostate Cancer globally
Treatment of prostate cancer depends on the stage the cancer is on. When the cancer is just beginning and in a very mild form, doctors usually choose to monitor and track the cancer cells. Sometimes cancer cells never come out of the prostate, and there is no harm to the patient in such cases. Therefore, doctors monitor prostate cancer to avoid any unnecessary sophisticated treatments.
In cases of serious prostate cancer, there are several treatment methods that can completely cure it.
Surgery is an effective method to remove prostate cancer, which is growing fast and may pose a threat in the future. Surgery can be done in different ways based on the location and size of cancer. Surgeries can involve removing testicles or inhibiting the semen flow. It can reduce the quality of sexual life. However, surgical methods can save your whole life too.
- Radiation therapy
Radiation can be used to kill cancer cells present in or around the prostate. This radiation is in the form of x-rays and can be used externally or internally. Radiation tablets can be left inside the prostate while performing surgery. These radiations will directly attack the cancer cells one-on-one. Doctors also use radiation externally through lasers, without the need for any kind of surgery.
Chemotherapy can be used in advanced cases of prostate cancer as the last resolve. It can kill cancer cells anywhere around the body using drugs. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy together can do wonders in prostate cancer treatment.
- Androgen Deprivation Therapy
This is an advanced and systematic treatment designed for prostate cancer. ADT reduces the generation of androgen (the cancer-promoting hormone) in the patient’s body. This reduction can slow down or even stop cancer growth completely. ADT is a long and time taking treatment for the patients.
Does heritage matter in diagnosis and treatment?
Heritage or origin can play an important role in giving you prostate cancer. Among US citizens, doctors have found that African-American is diagnosed with prostate cancer the most. The chances of suffering from prostate cancer are much higher in African-American men. Diagnosis of prostate cancer can be a bold process, and different races and their ethnic cultures may find it embarrassing to get their rectums checked. The reason for the increased cases of prostate cancer in some heritages is still unknown. Also, from a study, it was derived that African-American patients respond better to cancer treatment drugs than Caucasian or native patients.
Thus, heritages play a direct or indirect role in the treatment of prostate cancer. This is partially true for every type of cancer. Human heritages have a strong role in the genetical structure of people and thus plays a role in immunity against any disease.
A new drug which can significantly reduce the risk of prostate cancer
The new drug named Pembrolizumab is proving to be a breakthrough in prostate cancer treatment. The drug works on the principles of Immunotherapy. It increases the immunity of cells and helps the host body to fight back with full energy and destroy cancer cells. Pembrolizumab was tested on a group of patients on severe prostate cancer stages at Royal Marsden Hospital. With the use of drugs as their last survival chance, one-third of the patients are still alive, and one-tenth of them showed a complete halt in cancer growth. Some patient’s cancer nodes even began to shrink. This is definitely a breakthrough in medical science. Previously, immunotherapy has been proven unsuccessful during the final stages of prostate cancer. However, with this new drug, there are bright hopes for the survival of patients in the last stages as well.
Prostate cancer is a treatable and mild form of cancer when compared with brain and lung cancer. But if left untreated, it can sometimes grow to fatal levels. Timely diagnosis and suitable treatments can cure prostate cancer easily. Patients in their last stages are also seeing some hopes now with improving technologies and better drugs like Pembrolizumab.