Understanding Prostate Cancer:
Prostate Cancer is a form of cancer which develops in the prostate gland. The prostate gland is a walnut shaped small gland present in males which is surrounded by the bladder and the urethra. This gland forms a part of the reproductive system for males. It functions by producing seminal fluid and transports this fluid to the penis during ejaculation after a sexual intercourse.
Prostate Cancer is one of the most common types of cancer found in males after skin cancer. The prostate gland continues to grow as an individual ages. With growing age, the prostate gland tends to enlarge and ultimately cancer cells develop. During the initial stages, prostate cancer is confined to the prostate gland but gradually if left untreated it then spreads to the surrounding structures.
While in some cases, prostate cancer develops and progresses very slowly such that minimal treatment is required there are cases where the cancer is far more aggressive and spreads extremely quickly and hence requires more intense treatment.
The chances of an individual completely recovering from prostate cancer depends on whether the cancer is detected early enough and is confined to the prostate gland. Below mentioned are some of the ways to detect Prostate Cancer.
How is Prostate Cancer Detected?
Once an individual crosses the age of 50, it becomes mandatory for the individual to get screened for prostate cancer. This is the first step at detecting prostate cancer early. A screening for prostate cancer begins with a digital rectal examination.
The physician will enter a lubricated gloved finger into the rectum and examine the prostate to look for any abnormalities in the texture, shape or size of the prostate. If any abnormalities are detected then further investigations are carried out to look for any signs of prostate cancer.
The next step towards detecting prostate cancer is checking the levels of PSA or Prostate Specific Antigen. This can be done through a normal blood test and a PSA level is checked. In case if the levels are higher than the norm then it calls for further investigations as a high level of PSA may indicate cancer, inflammation, or enlargement of the prostate. These two tests are good enough for detecting prostate cancer in its early stages.
If during screening, any abnormalities are found then the following investigations are conducted to rule in or rule out prostate cancer.
Ultrasound: An ultrasound of the prostate can be conducted to evaluate the prostate in much greater detail. A probe is inserted through the rectum into the prostate and through sound waves a picture of the prostate gland is produced. Any abnormality in the prostate gland can be detected through this method.
Prostate Biopsy: A biopsy of the prostate tissue is taken in cases when the PSA levels are higher than normal. If the biopsy shows cancer cells then the diagnosis of is confirmed of Prostate Cancer.