FabAfriq Magazine

Prostate Cancer

Every man has one but few know they do and even fewer, how exactly it works and the health risks associated with the prostate gland. Most are only aware of its existence once diagnosed with an infection or cancer. As we celebrate our Fathers and the men in our lives in the month of June, we take a look at the silent killer in our midst. With its devastating effect on health and family, we look at the presentation of Prostate Cancer and provide information on what to look out for and why early diagnosis can and does save lives.

Over the last few decades, information recorded is known to show that prostate cancer is the most deadly amongst black males. Black men are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer and 80% of cases are found in males over 60 year old. It accounts for something in the region of 3% of deaths in those over 70 years old. In spite of this there is little information on the reasons why this is the case. There are some early indications that a genetic mutation may be responsible for a proportion of cases but further research goes on.

Overview
The prostate gland is often described as the size of a walnut but it is in fact, closer to the size of a kiwi fruit and sits to the rear and under the bladder. Prostate come from the Greek word Prostates which literally translates as Protector.

 To work properly, the prostate relies on Dihydrotestosterone, a particular component of testosterone, the male hormone produced by the testicles. The prostate controls ejaculation and secretes a milky white fluid which makes up about 30% of semen. This fluid is ejaculated first and contains most of the sperm as they survive better in it.

Symptoms
It is unusual to diagnose prostate cancer in men under the age of 35 and in the early stages of the disease few or no symptoms may be experienced. As the disease progresses, they symptoms become more obvious. These symptoms can include:

-A weak or reduced flow of urine

-Difficulty passing urine or sudden urges to pass urine

-Pain during urination or ejaculation

The pain and interruption is cause by enlargement of the gland. This causes it to press on the urethra (the duct through which urine flows), making it difficult or painful to pass fluid. Less common symptoms include pain in the back, bone pain, swollen legs and blood in urine.

It is also important to note that symptoms may be caused by BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland with age. Prostatitis, an infection of the gland can cause similar symptoms. The general rule is if you feel any pain, then its worth getting checked out.

Diagnosis  

Initially, your doctor may recommend a PSA (Prostate specific antigen) test. The results are not conclusive. Rather they provide pointers which give an indication of possible infection which may then lead the practitioner to carry out a DRE (Digital rectal exam).

This involves having your practitioner manually probe the area through the anus. It is not the most comfortable thing but weigh up the risk of developing cancer versus the relative discomfort of being probed. If any abnormality is found, a biopsy is then taken for confirmation.

Prostate cancer, like any other, has the ability to metastasize to other parts of the body. Left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to cancers in the lymph nodes, bones and lungs.

Treatment

Curative treatment, where the cancer is confined to the prostate can be carried out if diagnosed early.

External Beam Radiotherapy is used to treat cancer that is contained within the prostate or radiotherapy to deal with cancer just outside the prostate. This is suitable treatment for men of any age.

Surgery (Prostatectomy): In this method of treatment, one of three methods is used to remove the prostate gland. These include:

  •  Retropubic prostatectomy where a cut is made in the abdomen. This is the most commonly used type of surgery.
  • Perineal prostatectomy is less commonly employed. Here, surgery is done through the perineum, the area between the testicles and rectum.
  • Keyhole surgery accesses the prostate gland through five or six small openings and can be done manually or using a robot controlled by a specialist surgeon.

Common side effects which are not permanent include difficulty getting and keeping an erection and urinating. These issues can quite easily be treated with medication.

Non-invasive techniques include active surveillance. PSA tests are carried out regularly to avoid or delay unnecessary treatment in men with less aggressive cancers. The disease does not always progress, eliminating the need for invasive treatment.

There is no real formula for warding off cancer but some recommendations have been made by experts which may help by providing a preventative barrier to prostate cancer in later years. It is thought, however, that a high intake of saturated animal fats and red meat may be responsible for the high incidence in prostate cancer. Reducing your intake of animal fat and increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet may lower the risk of prostate cancer developing or spreading. Employing the tips below may help:

  •  Eat plenty of fibre
  • Cut down on fat
  • Cut down on salt
  • Cut down on sugar

Eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day helps boost the immune system. Broccoli and other members of the same family such as kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts have also been specifically identified as helping to prevent prostate cancer.

Garlic is another super food with a multitude of antioxidant benefits and in particular, helps to prevent prostate problems in men. Try aroma free garlic capsules is you are worried about the smell but for maximum health benefits, it’s best to use the real thing from time to time.

Tomatoes are a cancer-beating fruit due to its powerful antioxidant properties, so stock up on them. Finally, do not forget Omega 3 fatty acids, found in oily fish like sardines, mackerel and herring.

 

For more information, visit The Prostate Cancer Charity, call them in confidence on 0800 074 8383 or call your local medical help line.

Photo Gallery

FabAfriq Facebook Activity