The Prostate is a small gland sitting along the male reproductive tract, just around the neck of the bladder. It functions to secrete seminal fluid which is a major component of semen. There are two common prostate conditions that concerns men usually as they age namely – benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is one cancer that affects men only. It develops mainly in older men, especially those of African origin. Statistics show that 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Most cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
Prostate cancer is usually a slow growing cancer and can be confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause any serious harm for a long time. However, some types of prostate cancer may grow more aggressively and can spread quickly to other adjacent structures.
EARLY WARNING SIGNS OF PROSTATE CANCER
We aim to highlight the important warning signs and symptoms that may be an early indicator of a probable prostate cancer. This is to educate and arm you with information on steps to take when you see these signs and symptoms, to ensure early detection and improve the chances of a cure. These symptoms and signs include:
- Difficulty in passing urine: This is one of the earliest warning sign of prostate cancer. It may present as urgency – a need to rush to start urination; or as a case of stopping midstream or urinating more often than usual. You may find it hard to stop after finishing, or you might feel you still need to urinate, even after finishing.
- Pain during urination: This is another early sign that there may be an on-going abnormal enlargement of the prostate from cancer or BPH. Pain during urination can also be due to an infection in the urinary tract, but unlike in infection, the pain from prostate cancer does not go away even after taking antibiotics. Any time you experience pain during urination, it is best to consult a doctor for the right diagnosis and to recommend appropriate treatment.
- Blood in the urine: This is also known as hematuria. Blood in urine is an abnormal finding that should always be properly investigated and corrected. Prostate cancer is not the only condition that can present with blood in urine. Other conditions that could present like this include – prostate or bladder infection, BPH, kidney/bladder stones, tumor in the kidney or bladder.
- Leakage or dribbling urine: This is another early warning sign of prostate cancer. Leakage does not occur in large volume, but it is still noticeable
- Erectile problems: Erectile problems are usually caused due to atherosclerosis. However, it can also be a sign of prostate cancer.
To reduce risk of developing prostate cancer, these few tips have been found to be helpful:
- Reducing the amount of dairy products you eat each day
- Eating more fat from plants than from animals
- Eating more fish. Fatty fish — such as salmon, tuna and herring — contain omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fatty acid that has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer
- Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat each day.
- exercising most days of the week
- Maintain a healthy weight
Treatment options include:
- Active surveillance (watchful waiting)
- Surgery (prostatectomy)
- Radiation therapy (either external beam radiation or radioactive seed implants, called brachytherapy)
- Hormone therapy
- Freezing therapy (cryosurgery)
Your doctor is in the best position to advice you on appropriate treatment approach, but making the finally decision on any health care issue affecting you still lies with you.
It is important that when you notice any of these early warning signs of prostate cancer, that you consult your doctor without delay. Prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer and early detection helps for appropriate monitoring and intervention.
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