Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in Australia and the third most common cause of cancer death, according to Cancer Council Australia. One in 5 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the age of 85.
Prostate cancer is usually slow growing. There may even be no symptoms at all in the first few years. As the tumour grows, it can cause a partial blockage to the flow of urine. Symptoms may then develop and can include one or more of the following:
- Poor stream – Urine flow is weaker and it takes longer to empty your bladder
- Waiting – You may have to wait for a while before urine starts to flow
- Frequency – You may pass urine more often than normal
- Urgency – You may have to get to the toilet quickly
- Poor emptying – You may have a feeling of not quite emptying your bladder
All of the above symptoms are common in older men. Most men who develop the above symptoms do not have prostate cancer but have a benign enlargement of the prostate.
The tests most commonly used in the early detection of prostate cancer are the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and physical examination of the prostate.
The best treatment for your prostate cancer depends on your age, general health and the grade and stage of your cancer.
Treatment options include:
- Regular monitoring – in some cases this is a valid option. Some prostate cancers are slow growing and occur in older men, so they are not always a threat to life. This is known as Active Surveillance.
- Surgery – involves the removal of the prostate (robotic radical prostatectomy) along with the lymphatic tissue draining the prostate.
- Radiation therapy uses X-rays to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be recommended to treat localised prostate cancer. This is usually performed by a radiation oncologist and can be performed in a number of ways.
- Hormone treatment involves reducing the male hormone – Testosterone. This assists in slowing the growth of the cancer.
- Chemotherapy is not routinely used when prostate cancer is first diagnosed, however may be offered if the cancer spreads and other treatments have not been effective.