What are the warning signs of prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men. More than 200,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States every year and around 30,000 die of the disease each year.  The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is 1 in 7 and the rates of prostate cancer are expected to increase to 25% in North America.  This is serious stuff!

The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system that is just below the bladder and in front of the rectum.  The prostate is about the size of a walnut and the prostate gland produces fluid that makes up part of the semen.

What you can do to stop prostate cancer?

The most important thing you can do is screening.  Screening involves checking for cancer even though you do not have any symptoms--screening is crucial to the early detection of prostate cancer!

Screening for prostate cancer involves two basic tests: a digital rectal examination and a blood test called Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA).  The PSA test  measures the level of PSA in the blood.  PSA is substance made by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer.  If a PSA test is higher than normal, a biopsy of the prostate may be done.  One word of caution: the results of a PSA blood test can be misleading, since there are high rates of false negative and false positive results with PSA tests--this means that a positive or negative result is not definitive.

The second screening test for prostate cancer is a digital rectal examination.  This examination entails an examination of the prostate through the rectal wall for lumps and abnormal areas.  Any suspicious lumps or abnormal areas on the prostate gland can lead to a needle biopsy of the prostate to check for cancer cells.

What else can I do to check for prostate cancer?

Be alert to the warning signs and symptoms of prostate cancer! 

When the prostate gland has cancer, the gland often becomes enlarged and this can cause painful urination. The symptoms associated with prostate cancer include weak or interrupted flow of urine, frequent urination (especially at night), trouble urinating, pain or  burning during urination, blood in the urine or semen and painful ejaculation.

If you have any of the symptoms of prostate cancer, make sure you have a PSA blood test and a digital rectal exam.  Even in the absence of any findigs on these tests, your doctor may order a biopsy of the prostate gland if your symptoms are suspicious enough.

What is the key to surviving prostate cancer?

The most important factor in assessing the likelihood of surviving prostate cancer is the stage of the cancer at the time of the diagnosis.  Stage 1 and 2 prostate cancer mean that the tumor is confined to the prostate capsule and has not spread to the surrounding seminal vesicles and lymph nodes--this is the most curable form of prostate cancer.  In Stage 2-B prostate cancer, cancer is found in both lobes of the prostate.  In Stage 2, the cancer is more advanced than Stage 1, but it has not spread outside the prostate.

Stage 3 prostate cancer means that the cancerous cells have spread beyond the outer layer of the prostate on one or both sides and may have spread into the seminal vesicles surrounding the prostate gland.  Stage 4 prostate cancer means that the cancerous cells have spread beyond the prostate to nearby tissue or organs, such as the rectum, bladder or pelvic wall--this is the most lethal form of prostate cancer.

The five  year survival rate will vary greatly depending upon the stage of the prostate cancer when diagnosed.  You should ask your urologist: what is the stage of my prostate cancer and what is my Gleason Score?

Why you should know your Gleason Score?

The Gleason Score describes how different the cancer cells look from normal cells and how likely it is tha the tumor will spread.  The lower the number, the less likely the tumor is to spread.  The Gleason Score ranges from 2 to 10.

The statistics about prostate cancer are scary!  You must stay alert for signs and symptoms of prostate cancer and get annual screening, especially after the age of 50, for prostate cancer.  The PSA test and the digital rectal examination are crucial in screening to detect prostate cancer in its early stage.

I welcome your phone call if you have questions

If you have any questions or want more information, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 866-889-6882 or you can request my free book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website, www.protectingpatientrights.com.