For the millions of men who encounter prostate problems each year and, in particular those who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, we have picked out ten of the most frequently asked questions about the prostate and prostate cancer.
Question 1. What is the prostate gland?
The prostate gland, which when healthy is about the size of a walnut, lies between the rectum and the bladder and forms part of the male reproductive system, making and storing a fluid contained within semen. The prostate gland partially surrounds the urethra and, when it becomes enlarged, it can slow or even stop the flow of urine.
Question 2. What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is the second commonest form of cancer in the United States today. In 2006 approximately 235,000 men in the US were diagnosed with prostate cancer and some 27,000 men died of the disease. In most cases prostate cancer appears relatively late in life and is slow growing and, for this reason, many men with prostate cancer die from other unrelated causes.
Question 3. Who is at risk of contracting prostate cancer?
The simple answer is that all men are at risk of contracting prostate cancer. This said, prostate cancer is age related and so it is more likely to appear the older you get. In addition, prostate cancer is more likely to appear in men with a family history of the disease and in black men. There are also quite marked differences seen between countries with the United States having the highest incidence and Japan the lowest. While these differences are not entirely understood it is believed that diet may play an important role.
Question 4. What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
It is possible to suffer from prostate cancer for many years without displaying any symptoms at all. However when symptoms do appear they are likely to include the need for frequent urination (particularly during the night), difficulty in urinating, a weak flow or urine which tends to stop and start, pain when urinating, blood in the urine or semen, painful ejaculation and frequent pain in the lower back as well as in the hips or upper part of the thighs.
It is important to note that while these can indicate the presence of prostate cancer they can also be symptomatic of a number of other conditions and you should check with your doctor and not simply assume that because you are experiencing these symptoms that you have prostate cancer.
Question 5. What other conditions are associated with prostate cancer symptoms?
It is very common in older men for the prostate gland to enlarge placing pressure on both the bladder and the urethra and interfering with both the flow of urine and with sexual function. This condition is not cancer but is a benign condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH.
In addition, symptoms similar to those seen in prostate cancer can also be experienced as the result of a prostate infection known as prostatitis which causes inflammation of the prostate.
Question 6. Is it possible to screen for prostate cancer before symptoms appear?
There are currently two commonly performed tests which are carried out to detect the presence of prostate cancer. Although neither test is in itself a definitive test for prostate cancer, both tests can indicate problems developing with the prostate gland and thus indicate the need for more specific testing.
The two tests currently used to detect the possible presence of prostate cancer are the digital rectal exam (DRE), in which a doctor feels the prostate through the rectum to find hard or lumpy areas, and a blood test used to detect a substance made by the prostate called prostate specific antigen (PSA).
Question 7. How reliable are the present screening tests?
Neither the digital rectal exam nor the PSA blood test are perfect and the DRE can easily miss prostate cancers while it is also possible for men with prostate cancer to show normal levels of PSA in the blood.
The two tests used together do produce reasonable results and are certainly better than not screening for the condition at all, but more accurate screening is required and studies are underway to improve screening in the next few years.
Question 8. How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
The only sure way to confirm the presence of prostate cancer is to carry out a prostate biopsy during which a number of small samples of tissue are taken from various parts of the prostate gland for microscopic laboratory examination.
Question 9. How is prostate cancer treated?
Provided the cancer is localized (confined to the prostate gland) there are currently three main forms of treatment available.
The first is simply to watch and wait. This may seem a strange form of treatment but in older patients who may have other serious medical problems it may be best to simply leave prostate cancer untreated as long as it remains confined to the prostate gland.
The second form of treatment is radiation therapy to kill the cancer cells delivered either using traditional radiotherapy techniques on an outpatient basis, or by implanting radioactive seeds into the prostate gland.
Finally, prostate cancer can be treated by simply removing the prostate gland surgically.
Question 10. What is the best treatment for localized prostate cancer?
There are a large number of factors which need to be taken into consideration before deciding upon the treatment that is right for you and the options need to be carefully considered and discussed with both your family and your doctor. fenben powder