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Prostate Cancer

- By Dr Vikas Singh,
M.B.B.S., M.S., M.Ch.
Urologist, Genito Uro Oncologist and Kidney Transplant Surgeon,
Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore.

        Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that affects men, particularly those over the age of 50. Despite its prevalence, there are still many misconceptions and questions surrounding this disease. In this article, we'll address some of the most frequently asked questions about prostate cancer.


What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the prostate gland, a small gland in the male reproductive system. The prostate gland produces seminal fluid, which is essential for transporting sperm. Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the prostate gland begin to grow and multiply uncontrollably, eventually forming a tumor.


What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

In its early stages, prostate cancer may not cause any symptoms. However, as the cancer grows, it can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night

  • Difficulty starting or stopping urination

  • Weak or interrupted urine flow

  • Pain or burning sensation during urination

  • Blood in the urine or semen

  • Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis

  • Erectile dysfunction

What causes prostate cancer?

The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but certain risk factors may increase a man's likelihood of developing the disease. These risk factors include:

  • Age: Prostate cancer is more common in men over the age of 50.

  • Family history: Men with a family history of prostate cancer are more likely to develop the disease themselves.

  • Race: Prostate cancer is more common in African-American men.

  • Diet: A diet high in red meat and dairy products and low in fruits and vegetables may increase the risk of prostate cancer.

How is prostate cancer diagnosed?

Prostate cancer can be diagnosed through a variety of tests, including:

  • Digital rectal exam: In this exam, a healthcare provider will insert a gloved finger into the rectum to feel for any abnormalities in the prostate gland.

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: This blood test measures the level of PSA, a protein produced by the prostate gland. Elevated PSA levels may indicate the presence of prostate cancer.

  • Biopsy: In this procedure, a small sample of prostate tissue is removed and examined under a microscope to check for cancer cells

How is prostate cancer treated?

The treatment for prostate cancer will depend on the stage of the cancer and other factors such as the patient's age and overall health. Treatment options may include:

  • Watchful waiting: In some cases, doctors may recommend monitoring the cancer with regular check-ups and delaying treatment until symptoms appear or the cancer grows.

  • Surgery: Surgical removal of the prostate gland, known as a prostatectomy, may be recommended in some cases.

  • Radiation therapy: High-energy beams are used to kill cancer cells in the prostate gland.

  • Hormone therapy: Certain medications may be used to block the production of hormones that fuel the growth of prostate cancer cells.

  • Chemotherapy: Powerful drugs are used to kill cancer cells throughout the body.


What are the side effects of prostate cancer treatment?

The side effects of prostate cancer treatment will depend on the type of treatment used. Some common side effects include:

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Urinary incontinence

  • Bowel problems

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea and vomiting


Can prostate cancer be prevented?

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent prostate cancer, there are steps men can take to lower their risk of developing the disease, such as:

  • Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in red meat and dairy products

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Exercising regularly

  • Quitting smoking

  • Getting regular prostate exams starting at age 50, or earlier; according to the risk profile.

What is surgery for prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer surgery is a procedure in which the prostate gland is removed from the body. The prostate gland is a small organ located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It produces fluid that is part of semen.


What are the types of prostate cancer surgery?

There are two main types of prostate cancer surgery: open prostatectomy and laparoscopic prostatectomy. Open prostatectomy involves making a large incision in the lower abdomen, while laparoscopic prostatectomy involves making several small incisions and using a laparoscope (a small camera) to guide the surgery.


How is the decision made about which type of surgery to have?

The decision about which type of surgery to have depends on several factors, including the stage of the cancer, the size and location of the tumor, the patient’s age and overall health, and the surgeon’s experience and expertise.


What are the benefits of prostate cancer surgery?

The benefits of prostate cancer surgery include removing the cancerous prostate gland, reducing the risk of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body, and potentially curing the cancer.


What are the risks associated with prostate cancer surgery?

The risks of prostate cancer surgery include bleeding, infection, urinary incontinence (the inability to control urination), erectile dysfunction (the inability to have an erection), and damage to surrounding organs and tissues.


How long does it take to recover from prostate cancer surgery?

The recovery time after prostate cancer surgery varies depending on the type of surgery and the patient’s overall health. Generally, it takes several weeks to several months to recover fully. During this time, patients may experience urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, but these side effects often improve over time.


Can prostate cancer surgery be done robotically?

Yes, robotic prostatectomy is a minimally invasive surgical technique that uses a robotic system to perform the surgery. This technique has several benefits, including smaller incisions, less blood loss, and faster recovery times

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