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Home >> Specialities >> Cancer Care >> Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers affecting men worldwide. It originates in the prostate gland, a walnut-sized organ located below the bladder, and can range from slow-growing, localized tumors to more aggressive forms that spread to other parts of the body. Early detection and advances in treatment options have significantly improved the prognosis for individuals with prostate cancer. 

Causes of Prostate Cancer
The exact cause of prostate cancer remains unknown, but several risk factors have been identified:

  • Age: The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age, with the majority of cases diagnosed in men over the age of 65.
  • Family History: Individuals with close relatives (father, brother) who have had prostate cancer are at a higher risk, especially if the relative was diagnosed at a young age.
  • Race and Ethnicity: African-American men have a higher incidence of prostate cancer and are more likely to develop aggressive forms of the disease.
  • Genetic Mutations: Inherited mutations in specific genes, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and certain DNA mismatch repair genes, can increase the risk.
  • Diet and Lifestyle: A diet high in red meat and high-fat dairy products, as well as obesity, may be associated with an increased risk.
  • Inflammation of the Prostate: Chronic inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis) may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
In the early stages, prostate cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms. However, as the cancer progresses, individuals may experience:

  • Urinary Changes: Difficulty starting or stopping urination, weak urine flow, frequent urination (especially at night), and the sensation of not emptying the bladder completely.
  • Blood in Urine or Semen: Hematuria (blood in the urine) or hemospermia (blood in the semen) can occur.
  • Erectile Dysfunction: Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection may be a symptom, although it is often associated with other conditions as well.
  • Pelvic Pain or Discomfort: Pain in the lower back, hips, or pelvis may occur, especially if the cancer has spread.
  • Bone Pain: In advanced stages, prostate cancer may metastasize to the bones, causing pain and fractures.

Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer

  • Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): A healthcare provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities in the prostate.
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test: A blood test that measures the level of PSA, a protein produced by the prostate. Elevated PSA levels may indicate prostate cancer or other prostate conditions.
  • Biopsy: A tissue sample is taken from the prostate and examined under a microscope to confirm the presence of cancer, determine its type, and assess its aggressiveness.
  • Transrectal Ultrasound (TRUS): This imaging test uses sound waves to create an image of the prostate, allowing for a detailed examination.
  • MRI and Bone Scan: Advanced imaging techniques may be used to evaluate the extent of the cancer and check for any signs of metastasis.

Stages of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is staged based on the size of the tumor, whether it has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and whether it has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body. The stages range from I to IV, with higher stages indicating more advanced disease.

Treatment Options for Prostate Cancer
The choice of treatment for prostate cancer depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, the individual's overall health, and personal preferences. Treatment options may include:

  • Radical Prostatectomy: Surgical removal of the entire prostate gland and surrounding tissue.
  • Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy (RALP): A minimally invasive surgical technique performed using a robotic system for precision.
  • Radiation Therapy: External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT): High-energy X-rays are directed at the prostate from outside the body.
  • Brachytherapy: Radioactive seeds or pellets are implanted directly into the prostate.
  • Hormone Therapy: Medications or hormone-blocking therapies may be used to suppress the production of testosterone, which can fuel the growth of prostate cancer.
  • Chemotherapy: Systemic drugs that circulate throughout the body to target and kill cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy: Drugs that stimulate the body's immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells.
  • Targeted Therapy: Drugs that specifically target certain proteins involved in cancer growth.
  • Cryotherapy: Freezing of prostate tissue to destroy cancer cells.
  • Chemical Ablation: Injection of alcohol or other chemicals into the prostate to destroy cancer cells.

Conclusion
Prostate cancer is a complex disease with various risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options. Early detection through regular screening and prompt medical attention can significantly improve outcomes. Advances in research and treatment have led to better survival rates, and many individuals with prostate cancer go on to live long and fulfilling lives. A multidisciplinary approach involving healthcare providers, support networks, and patient advocacy organizations is crucial in the battle against prostate cancer. With proper care and support, individuals with prostate cancer can navigate their journey with hope and determination.

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