Today Cancer is one disease that is dreaded by all. The word itself instils the feeling of no return. The media, the general public all have been fascinated with the causes and the prevention aspects related to cancer. One fortnight of excessive coffee, junk food or tea may instil the fear of prostate cancer in men. Prostate Cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers affecting elderly men in India. 1 in 6 men are said to suffer from some prostate complication in their life. Today every year more than 200,000 people suffer from prostate associated diseases, with a major fraction accounting for cancer. There are various myths surrounding prostate cancer and the need of the hour is to clear the air. In an interview, Dr RN Tagore, Senior Consultant Medical Oncology, Paras Cancer Centre talks about the facts that every man should know about Prostate Cancer. Triad tests is golden standard procedure in diagnosis of prostate cancer i.e. Digital Rectal Examination(DRE), PSA level and Transrectal Ultrasonography(TRUS). If the same is positive then go for TRUS guided biopsy from Prostate.
Myth: Prostate Cancer is uncommon or rare in India?
Fact: Prostate Cancer is neither uncommon nor rare in India. In fact it is the second common leading cancer among elderly males in especially larger cities such as Delhi, Kolkata, Patna, Pune, etc. With the increasing longevity of the human life, more cases are being detected every day. Regretfully, more than half of the cases diagnosed with prostate cancer are usually always at an advanced stage.
Myth: Prostate Cancer occurs only in older men.
Fact: While it is true that older men are at a greater risk of developing Prostate Cancer (around 65% suffering from it are above 65 yrs old), however a third around 30% of the cases are reported in men below 65 yrs of age. Positive family histories of prostate cancer (brother or father) can also double the risk of suffering from it. It doesn’t necessarily mean that people with a family history would definitely develop prostate cancer, however regular health checkups are surely recommended. If any elderly male has long standing symptoms of prostatic enlargement i.e. urgency, frequency and hesitancy and has recently developed lower back pain, then they are more likely to suffer from prostate cancer with bony metastasis. Such cases need urgent evaluation.
Myth: A high Prostate Specific Antigen(PSA) test highlights that you may be suffering from prostate cancer
Fact: A high PSA test value can also suggest that the prostate is merely enlarged due to non cancerous reasons. If it is lower or less than 4.0ng/ml, it is least likely to have prostate cancer. If it is between 4.0-10.0ng/ml i.e. gray zone, the patient might require meticulous investigations (DRE examination and Transrectal Ultrasonography i.e. TRUS) . These are required to rule out prostate cancer and need close follow-up. If PSA value is more than 11.0ng/ml- the issue can be serious, the patient may be suffering from prostate cancer and may also need urgent evaluation. It could be neither due to urinary tract infection nor due to infection of the prostate gland. Increased PSA levels and an additional biopsy usually confirm prostate cancer. A urologist or cancer specialist shall suggest a biopsy taking numerous aspects into consideration.
Myth: A biopsy of the prostate gland carried out to diagnose prostate cancer can lead to spread of cancer.
Fact: False! A prostate biopsy may not necessarily be for diagnosing prostate cancer, it could be to detect other prostate issues too and it doesn’t lead to spreading of the same.
Myth: Removal of the man’s testicles is the only treatment for prostate cancer.
Fact: Removal of the testis for prostate cancer is the old treatment method and it is one modality of prostate cancer treatment. However today the times have changed and a number of aspects such as the extent of the cancer spread, the stage of the prostate cancer, PSA value, co morbidity and other conditions decide the treatment. Radiation, surgery, hormone therapy are various treatment modalities for prostate cancer.
What can men do about prostate cancer?
- Regular health checkups are a must if you have a family history of prostate cancer.
- Post the age of 65 yrs, men should opt for annual PSA tests.
- Report any urinary and abnormality in the testes immediately.
- Any pain or bleeding during urination should be discussed with a doctor.
- If there is any change in the frequency of urination along with the colour, consult a doctor immediately.
- Do not ignore the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer.