If you were born a male, you have a prostate gland buried in your pelvis. Every male, some at more risk than others, if they live long enough, face the risk of developing prostate cancer. The National Cancer Institute predicted about 186,000 American men would be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, and an estimated 29,000 men would die of the cancer. Final results for 2008 are not yet compiled.
Unfortunately, there are no preventative measures anyone has discovered, as yet. The greatest effective prevention in my mind is routine screening and exams which can often pick up the physical signs of enlargement of the prostate, blood tests for the PSA antigen which increases as trouble starts, and symptoms of difficulty with urinating.
The National Cancer Institute studies, among others, have shown no prevention benefit from using any of the alternative, herbal, or homeopathic medications. Don’t let anyone tell you different! The problem arises when all the screening tests are normal and men can still have prostate cancer present.
After all the testing and screening procedures for prostate cancer are done, in spite of early detection of cancer and treatment, the percent of men who die from this cancer remains the same. The positive side of these statistics indicates that screening tests and procedures pick up many more prostate cancers, and find them considerably earlier than not screening. In addition, most of the prostate cancers create symptoms that alert men of a pending problem early on.
– Over 65 years old.
– Other men in family had prostate cancer.
– Higher risk in Black population.
– High grade cellular changes on biopsy.
– Detectable genetic changes in chromosomes.
The cancer of the prostate is rare under the age of 45, but it’s wise to seek immediate medical attention when typical symptoms occur even if you’re under 45.
Ways to detect prostate cancer even before symptoms occur:
1. Digital rectal exam–if the prostate is lumpy or hard, then further investigation is needed.
2. Blood test for Prostate-specific antigen (PSA)–normal level is 1 to 4. At levels 5 to 10 more testing is required.
3. Transrectal ultrasound–the ultrasound probe inserted rectally can be placed directly against the prostate for a very close view of the inside of the gland.
When any one or combination of these tests are abnormal, a needle biopsy can be done to see what the actual live prostate cells look like. Biopsies are not terribly painful as many would lead you to believe. It’s the one test that will confirm the presence of prostate cancer.
Once cancer cells are found, the cells are rated according to how abnormal they are, and that in turn will guide the treatments that are selected by your physician.
Treatment Options include:
– surgery (prostatectomy)
– hormone therapy
– sometimes watchful waiting.
There is scientific evidence that prostate cancer may be present but never progresses to a malignant state. In low grade cancers some experts recommend watchful waiting to avoid the complications and side effects of surgery or irradiation.
Men who neglect their annual exams and recommended screening procedures for prostate cancer need to be very worried. Every one of us has seen or know of someone who has had prostate cancer and treatment—it ain’t rare. I have watched two of my physician associates and an attorney friend die of prostate cancer before the age of 60.
The real shame of it is when the neglectful man winds up with advanced prostate cancer when treatment is almost useless. His family often suffers mentally more than himself because they know that it might have been totally curable if he had had any respect for good health and screening—and his family.
The author, Curt Graham, is a retired medical doctor who has written extensively on many topics over his 35 plus years in active medical practice as a specialist in OB-GYN. He has been published in Modern Physician, and is credited as a platinum “Expert Author” by EzineArticles.com directory, among others.
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