Confronting Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancers in men. It usually affects men in their 60s, but is now progressively found in men of a lower age group as well. The common problems arising in this gland include benign (non-cancerous) enlargement, or cancer of the prostate. The risk factors include older age, family history and obesity.
Prostate cancer grows slowly and initially remains confined to the organ. However, in certain cases, the growth is rapid and can spread quickly to other organs. Early detection allows patients to choose from a range of treatment options, with excellent outcomes. Treating prostate cancer requires a team of experts from Medical, Radiation, Uro-Oncology who are aligned to follow protocols of international standards.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
- Trouble urinating
- Decreased force in the stream of urine
- Blood in semen
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Bone pain
- Erectile dysfunction
Having any of these symptoms does not mean it is cancer, but if one or more of them are noticed for more than two weeks then a doctor must be seen, and an immediate health screening is a must.
In many cases, prostate cancer causes no symptoms till it is advanced. So periodic checks with Digital rectal exam (DRE) and the Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test are recommended. Elevated PSA levels can be an indication of cancer, infection, inflammation or non cancerous enlargement. Transrectal Ultrasound is done for further diagnosis. The biopsied tissues are examined to evaluate the grade of prostate cancer by Gleason score. Bone scan, CT, MRI or PET CT followed with Biopsy is done to confirm the diagnosis. Men diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer may not require treatment right away. Only active surveillance is required in a few cases.
The treatment options include surgery (radical prostatectomy) or radiation therapy. Radical Prostatectomy for prostate cancer involves removing the prostate gland, some surrounding tissue and a few lymph nodes. The da Vinci Robotic Surgery System is used for surgery in some of the world’s best cancer care centres. Robotic prostatectomy allows the surgeon to make more precise movements with surgical tools as compared to traditional open or minimally invasive surgery.
Radiation therapy can be delivered either by a linear accelerator, to accurately target tumour or by Brachytherapy which involves placing many rice- sized radioactive seeds in the prostate tissue, delivering a low dose of radiation over a longer period of time. Radiotherapy can also be delivered using the advanced Proton Therapy which can almost eliminate long term side effects such as urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction. It reduces radiation to the bladder by 60% and also minimises the risk of secondary cancers by 50%. A few patients additionally require Hormone therapy, either for a short or long course. A holistic Oncology team approach is the best way to fight prostate cancer.