Prostate cancer is caused by the uncontrollable growth of cells within the prostate gland. Current data shows that the disease impacts one of every six men in the U.S. It is potentially life-threatening and can also lead to an assortment of side effects which may prove both debilitating and embarrassing. Below, we’ll explore a few known risk factors as well as the symptoms from which patients suffer. We’ll also describe the tests that are performed in order to diagnose the disease.
There seems to be a strong connection between age and an onset of the illness, though that may indicate an issue involving late diagnoses. Under 40 years of age, only 1 in 10,000 people are diagnosed with it. However, between the ages of 40 and 60, 1 person in 38 is diagnosed; after the age of 60, the rate climbs to 1 in 15 people.
Similar to age, the condition is not indifferent to ethnicity or genetics. African American men are over 60% more likely to battle prostate cancer than their Caucasian counterparts. And men who have a close relative (i.e. brother, father) with the disease have twice as much risk in developing the condition themselves.
Symptoms Of The Disease
In its early stages, symptoms can range from difficulty urinating to the presence of blood in the urine or semen. As the disease spreads, the symptoms become more severe. Once it reaches the pelvis area, patients may notice swelling in both legs and a lack of comfort below their abdominals. When the condition progresses to an advanced stage, patients will usually feel a persistent and intense pain in their bones as well as discomfort from a compressed spine.
How The Condition Is Diagnosed
Unfortunately, millions of cases affecting men are not diagnosed until they visit their doctors for a routine physical exam. The reason is because symptoms related to the disease are not noticeable during the beginning stages. As a result, there is little motivation to visit the doctor. Once a doctor suspects that a patient may have prostate cancer, he or she may suggest a number of different tests to diagnose the condition.
A rectal exam is normally performed first; the doctor will insert a gloved finger into the patient’s rectum to identify irregularities in the shape or size of the gland. A prostate-specific antigen test (or, PSA test) involves studying the patient’s blood for the presence of PSAs.
A doctor may also suggest a transrectal ultrasound. A small device is inserted into the patient’s rectum and uses sound waves in order to build a picture of the gland. Finally, a biopsy is performed if the doctor is reasonably sure that the disease is present.
Prostate cancer is a serious and deadly affliction that affects millions of men. It is one of the main reasons why all men should schedule a routine physical exam with their doctors. By diagnosing the condition as early as possible, steps can be taken to prevent its spread and treat its symptoms.