An estimated one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, making it the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer. What makes prostate cancer dangerous is that it’s common and easily overlooked; many men forgo discussions about prostate cancer out of embarrassment, increasing their risk of death if cancer develops. With proper education and regular exams, you can drastically decrease this risk.
At Indus Healthcare, with offices located in Pomona, West Covina, and Montclair, California, Dr. Amit Paliwal provides a range of men’s health services including prostate cancer screenings. Early detection is key to beating this common type of cancer and prolonging your life.
What you need to know about prostate cancer
The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland in the pelvis responsible for producing seminal fluid, which acts as a vehicle for sperm. The prostate is a vital part of the male reproductive system, but many men are only familiar with its sexual function, or the shame surrounding it. Understanding how cancer develops and the importance of regular examinations can help lower your risk of life-threatening complications.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and typically develops slowly over the course of years. You might not begin noticing symptoms until the prostate puts pressure on the urethra, making it difficult to urinate.
Common symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Straining to urinate
- Weaker stream while urinating
- A sense of fullness in the bladder
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Unexplained erectile dysfunction
There’s no single screening test for prostate cancer, and a thorough diagnosis might require multiple exams or imaging tests. However, your routine prostate examination will likely include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.
Most people are familiar with the DRE process: a nurse or doctor pulls on gloves before examining your rectum and prostate. This is a painless, professional exam, and your examiner takes steps to make it as quick and comfortable as possible.
The other test searches for PSA in your blood. Your prostate produces a small amount of this substance naturally, but higher levels of PSA can indicate prostate cancer. However, it can also indicate inflammation, infection, or unrelated enlargement.
If your doctor finds anything unusual, he may prescribe further diagnostic tests, including an ultrasound, MRI, or biopsy.
Just because you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer doesn’t mean it’s going to spread or become malignant. Your doctor will rate the aggressiveness of the cancer using the Gleason score: 6 being low-grade and 8-10 being high-grade.
Not all cases of prostate cancer require immediate intervention. As long as your cancer isn’t aggressive or causing symptoms, your doctor might place you on “active surveillance.” If it progresses any further, you can begin discussing treatment options like radiotherapy, hormone therapy, or surgery.
Much of the danger from prostate cancer doesn’t come from cases that were detected early and monitored, but by cases that were discovered too late. This is why regular prostate exams are important: the most dangerous form of prostate cancer is the kind that’s left unchecked.
Don’t let shame or embarrassment endanger your health. To schedule your men’s wellness exam, call the Indus location closest to you, or visit the contact page for more information.