How Important Is Prostate Cancer Screening

The word prostate came from the ancient Greek word prostátēs, which translates to guardian or protector. 

The prostate gland is a part of the male reproductive system located in the pelvis, it is situated between the bladder and the penis just behind a rectal wall. This collection of glands surround and interconnect with the urethra and two ejaculatory ducts.

Though merely the size of a walnut, the prostate is very essential to the male reproductive system since it secretes slightly alkaline prostatic fluids which help protect the sperm cells. This fluid also nourishes the sperm and together with seminal vesicle fluid, contributes to the overall volume of the excreted semen. 

The prostatic fluids also aid in neutralizing the acidity of a female’s vaginal tract, which can help the sperm survive in the female’s body. This collection of glands contract during ejaculation to squirt the prostatic liquid in the urethra.

The human prostate is subdivided into five different lobes namely, posterior and anterior lobes, two lateral lobes, and a middle lobe. Roughly 85% of all prostate cancer patients suffer from multifocal cases, this means that the cancer affects more than one area of the prostate.

What Increases Your Risk of Getting Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer for men, and its symptoms are very unlikely to be noticed especially in its early stages. This fact alone increases the risk of mortality among the patients that are diagnosed at a later stage.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a certain disease is called a risk factor. There are factors in which you directly contribute, like diet and lifestyle. And there are also factors in which you have no control over, like age and genes.

Even though these risk factors are identified to have the potential to cause cancer, exposure to one or more of these factors does not necessarily predict whether or not you will get the disease.

Age – Like most types of cancer, the risk of getting prostate cancer increases as you age. 80% of prostate cancer is diagnosed in patients who are over 65 years old. Although it has been noticed to be rare in men under the age of 40, the chances of developing it rapidly increase starting at 50 years old.

Eating habit – There is no significant amount of evidence that suggests any strong relations between what you eat and the development of prostate cancer. However, your eating behaviors now could have some effects later in life, even though thorough studies have yet to be made regarding this matter.

Family History – Having a close relative that has a history of prostate cancer and was diagnosed before the age of 65 is noticed to double your risk of the disease.

Inherited Genes – BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are the culprits behind breast cancers. However, there is a syndrome called HBOC syndrome or Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome where inheriting BRCA or BRCA2 genes increases the patient’s risk of developing other cancers including prostate cancer. 

What are the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer?

You can not easily determine if you have prostate cancer since it is rarely apparent during its early stage. You have to understand that the symptoms might be different for each person and could also be caused by a different condition other than cancer.

If your doctor has already helped you identify possible risk factors, they can help you make an informed decision whether you should undergo prostate cancer screening at a younger age. In most cases, a trusted physician could recommend routine screenings by Digital Rectal Exams (DRE) and Prostate Specific Androgen (PSA) by age 50.

In some cases, prostate cancer shows signs that are related to urination. This could include:

  • Discomfort, pain, or burning sensation while peeing.
  • Having a hard time urinating, trouble starting or stopping urination.
  • Increase in frequency to urinate during the night
  • Hematuria or presence of blood on urine
  • Difficulty in controlling the bladder
  • The stream of your urine seems restricted and there’s a decrease in the urine’s flow or velocity

Other prostate cancer symptoms that don’t concern urination includes:

  • Erectile dysfunction where patients have a hard time getting an erection
  • Presence of blood in semen
  • Swelling in the pelvic region or legs
  • Discomfort or pain during ejaculation
  • Bone pain that leads to fractures
  • Constant bone pain
  • Numbness in feet, legs, or hips
  • Pain in hips, legs, and feet.

Should I undergo prostate cancer screening?

This is a decision exclusively for you to decide. But your physician would assist you in making this judgment, they would help you analyze possible risk factors and whatnot to help you come up with the most efficient course of action.

Differentiating not life-threatening -or low-risk cancers from higher-risk cancers that can cause death is now possible, making overtreatment highly avoidable. 

An alternative approach for low-risk cancer cases is active and close surveillance rather than early intervention. For instance, men who are 70 years old and above are not recommended to have routine screening since it would be of little to no benefit.

If your physician determines that you are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, they may also recommend you undergo screening as early as 40 years old.

The objective of prostate cancer screening is to identify cancer cells that may be considered as high risk of spreading if it remains untreated and find them before they spread.

The most sought prostate cancer screening option is a combination of PSA and DRE annually for men 50 years old and above and aims to prevent the development of metastatic prostate cancer.

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