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Guide to Prostate Cancer

Guide to Prostate Cancer

Guide to Prostate Cancer: Understanding, Treatment, and Prevention

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer type among men around the globe. Most men are unaware of the causes of the disease, its symptoms, and the importance of early diagnosis. The main objective of this guide is to provide insight into prostate cancer, including the risk factors, symptoms, screening methods, treatment options, and the importance of early detection to increase awareness.

Risk factors

Several risk factors can increase a man’s likelihood of developing prostate cancer –

  • Age The likelihood of developing prostate cancer rises exponentially after the age of 50. It is estimated that 7 out of 10 males above the age of 65 years are diagnosed with prostate cancer.
  • Family History It is also important to note that men with a family history of the disease can be at twice the risk of developing the disease. This risk is even higher if several close relatives are affected.
  • Ethnicity It is a well-known fact that African American men are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer and have higher mortality rates than men of other races.
  • Genetic Mutations – Some genetic changes passed down in families can put a person at higher risk, including BRCA1 and BRCA2.
  • Diet and Lifestyle Intake of red meat and foods with high-fat content, along with low intake of fruits and vegetables, have been associated with prostate cancer. Other causes may include obesity and lack of physical activity.


Prostate cancer does not show noticeable symptoms at the early stages of cancer. But however, as the disease progresses, symptoms may start getting noticed including –

  • Difficulty urinating or a weak urine stream
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Discomfort in the pelvic area
  • Bone pain (in advanced stages)

These symptoms are also associated with other diseases like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or infections, and therefore these signs do not necessarily indicate one has prostate cancer.


Screening for prostate cancer can help detect the disease early when treatment is most effective. The two main screening tests are –

  1. Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test This blood test measures the level of PSA, a protein produced by the prostate gland. Elevated levels can indicate prostate cancer, but other conditions can also cause high PSA levels.
  2. Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) – During this exam a doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for any abnormalities in the prostate.

Screening recommendations vary, and men should discuss the potential benefits and risks of screening with their healthcare provider to make an informed decision.

Treatment options

Prostate cancer therapy is determined by the stage of the disease, the patient’s general condition and his attitude to the proposed treatment. Options include –

  • Active Surveillance – During the first stage of prostate cancer it is usually at lower risk or developing slowly, doctors may prescribe regular monitoring rather than immediate treatment. This approach is beneficial in eliminating side effects that may be associated with treatment.
  • Surgery – The primary treatment includes the surgical removal of the prostate gland and some of the tissue around it, also referred to as radical prostatectomy. This can be done through conventional open surgery or with less invasive techniques such as laparoscopic or robotic surgery.
  • Radiation Therapy – This treatment aims at using high-energy rays to target and destroy cancer cells in the body. It can be delivered from outside the body (external beam radiation) or inside the body (brachytherapy), where radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate gland.
  • Hormone Therapy – Also referred to as androgen-suppressive therapy, this therapy aims at lowering levels of male hormones that can fuel cancer growth. It is sometimes employed in the advanced treatment of metastatic prostate cancer or in combination with other treatments.
  • Chemotherapy this option employs drugs to eliminate cells that are dividing at a faster rate and are cancerous. It is usually applied in the metastatic stage (the third and final stage of prostate cancer) for optimum results.
  • Immunotherapy and Targeted Therapy – These newer treatments use the immune system or target specific molecules involved in cancer growth. They are generally used when other treatments have failed in specific genetic profiles.

Patient Experiences

Patients with prostate cancer often experience a wide range of emotions, from fear and anxiety to hope and resilience. It’s necessary to understand that life with this disease is not easy, both in terms of the body and mind. There are various side effects of these treatments which the patients suffer from such as –

  • Urinary incontinence
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fatigue
  • Emotional distress

Family members, friends, healthcare providers, counselors, and support groups play a crucial role. Many male patients benefit from these support groups because they meet other individuals who go through the same situations. Support groups and online forums offer an opportunity to share stories, experiences, advice, and encouragement.

Overall, the journey with prostate cancer is deeply personal marked by challenges but also by courage and adaptation.

Importance of early detection

Early detection of prostate cancer significantly improves the chances of successful treatment and survival. When detected early, prostate cancer is highly treatable, and many men can live long and acquire a healthy life. Additionally, regular screenings, awareness of risk factors, and attention to potential symptoms are key components of early detection.

Men should have open discussions with their healthcare providers about their risks and the appropriate age to begin screening. For most men, discussions about screening start at age 50, but those with higher risk factors such as a family history or ethnicity, should consider starting earlier.


Prostate cancer is a major health concern among men. However, understanding the causes, signs, and screening methods can lead to early detection and successful treatment. It is therefore important to stay informed, maintain regular check-ups, and embrace a healthy lifestyle to minimize the occurrences of prostate cancer and its effects. These steps are crucial and need proactive measures to prevent the occurrence of this disease that is known to affect the majority of men.

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