No one likes to talk about prostate cancer. For the most part, prostate cancer is removed from the public consciousness, save for the occasional joke about the unpleasantness of prostate checks. As a result of this population-wide shyness about the subject, prostate cancer doesn’t get the attention it needs.
Let’s be clear: prostate cancer does need attention. Prostate cancer accounts is the second-most common cancer in men, and it is thought that a full 10% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
Below, let’s dig into what you need to know about this all-too-prevalent cancer, so you know the signs to look out for and learn all you need to know about maintaining your good health throughout your life.
What is prostate cancer?
The prostate is a gland, located behind the bladder, that produces sperm. Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate begin to grow and multiply in an uncontrolled manner.
Who is most likely to get prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is most likely to be experienced by men over the age of 50, though there have been recorded cases of much younger sufferers. Prostate cancer is a very slow-growing cancer and may be entirely asymptomatic for years; this has led researchers to conclude that many men may have prostate cancer, but die from other causes before it can be diagnosed. So the “10% of men will get prostate cancer” statistic could actually be much higher.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Due to the slow-growing nature of prostate cancer, the condition can be entirely without symptoms for many years. This is why regular checks of the prostate by a physician are recommended, as frequently diagnosis is the only way of identifying prostate cancer when it’s in its early stages. When symptoms do develop, they are generally quite mild; a burning sensation when urinating, poor bladder control, and blood in urine.
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
Diagnosis usually involves a physical examination and then a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Doctors may also order as Prostate Specific Antigen test; PSA is secreted by the prostate, and men with prostate cancer may have heightened levels of PSA.
How is prostate cancer treated?
Treatments depend on whether the cancer is local (i.e. the cancer is only in the prostate) or whether it has metastasized (i.e. spread to other parts of the body). In local cancers, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and surgery are all effective options.
What are survival rates for prostate cancer?
The survival rates for prostate cancer are excellent if it is found when it remains local to the prostate; 98% of men with local prostate cancer are still alive after five years, and the remaining two percent may have died due to other causes (as the cancer is more frequently found in older men). For prostate cancer that has metastasized, the survival rate is around 29%– so early detection, when the cancer is confirmed to the prostate, is essential.
Prostate cancer is common, but it’s also incredibly treatable– so keep an eye out for the symptoms and get your prostate checked regularly. If you do this, the odds are on your side.