Ever thought that there could be a type of cancer that might not necessarily require treatments? And just active surveillance is more than enough to keep an eye on it?
Let’s face it; prostate cancer is one of the most unusual types of cancer affecting millions worldwide. Yet, many doctors only prefer keeping an eye on its progress rather than opting for an alternative to kill the disease once and for all.
This Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we’ve tapped our doctors in Territory Medical Group to dig in more about this mysterious disease. If you want to learn some interesting facts about prostate cancer, keep reading this article.
About prostate cancer
Forming an integral part of a man’s reproductive anatomy, the prostate gland helps to secrete fluids that nourish and transport semen.
A cancer in the prostate gland begins when abnormal cells start growing and spreading around, forming a malignant tumour. While you won’t see any symptoms of a growing tumour, there can be some notable early warning signs that are more or less around a variety of urinary issues.
So, the need to go to the bathroom, especially in the middle of the night, or facing trouble starting or stopping after urinating could be a reason to see your doctor soon.
What makes this disease more unusual is that prostate cancer rarely causes any symptoms, sometimes even up to years or ever. And on the flip side, it can also grow so quickly that a surgery is the only possible solution.
Let’s dig in more.
1. Prostate gland changes as we age
Unlike other glands, the prostate glands tend to grow larger with aging. About half of all men will have an enlarged prostate, a naturally occurring phenomenon for men in their 60s, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia.
This condition doesn’t increase the risk of prostate cancer but can cause unwanted pressure and urge to go to the bathroom now and then, something a person with prostate cancer would suffer too.
2. Symptoms of prostate cancer often mimic other conditions
Most prostate cancer symptoms like blood in the urine or the sudden urge to urinate in the middle of the night are symptoms similar to several other prostates or urinary tract diseases.
For example, both BPH (or benign prostatic hyperplasia) and prostate cancer affects the prostate gland, but BPH is benign in nature, meaning it’s not cancerous and will it never spread.
3. Prostate cancer can run in families for generations
Having a first-degree relative such as a brother or a father with prostate cancer can more than double the risk of developing the disease.
And since prostate cancer often tends to run in families, studies suggest that the risks can be inherited even up to several generations.
According to the American Cancer Society, inherited prostate cancer makes up to 20 per cent of all prostate cancer cases globally.
4. Not all prostate cancer cases would need immediate treatment
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, doctors would reasonably make every possible effort to treat and manage cancer.
However, this might not hold good in the case of treating prostate cancer. Sometimes, prostate cancer grows so slowly that doctors may only keep active surveillance with regular screenings.
This is because some men with very low to low risks will have the same survival rate even without chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery.
5. Not everyone needs prostate cancer screening; it depends from individual to individual
Although a higher PSA test score (prostate-specific antigen) could signal potential prostate cancer, only about 25% of men with higher scores actually get prostate cancer.
A higher PSA Score (the primary test for screening for prostate cancer) could be driven by several other reasons such as stress, inflammation, or even sexual activities.
As a result, it is always recommended to ask your doctors whether or not and when to undergo a prostate cancer screening.
However, if you’re in your late 40s, discuss your prostate cancer screening options with a doctor.