Spotlight on cancer: Prostrate Cancer

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(AON KENYA) 1. At least 1,000 Kenyan men will have prostate cancer this year —and many of them will die of this disease.
2. Only men can get prostate cancer. Women can not get prostate cancer, because they do not have a prostate
3. If a man’s father, grandfather, uncle or brother has or had prostate cancer, then he is at greater risk than most men.
4. Black African men seem to be at a higher risk for prostate cancer than White men, but it’s not known why.
5. In its earliest and most curable stages, prostate cancer has no symptoms at all. The key to the effective management of prostate cancer is early detection, using regular physical exams and simple blood tests called PSA tests.
6. Many men, particularly older men, with early stages of prostate cancer, may never need to be treated at all.
7. There are several ways to treat early stage prostate cancer, and they all have similar results. Every form of treatment for prostate cancer has some serious risks and some serious possible side effects.
8. For any specific type of treatment, doctors with extensive experience using that treatment technique can reduce the patient’s risk for complications.

What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the prostate, a walnut-sized gland found right below the bladder. If it isn’t treated, prostate cancer follows a natural course, starting as a tiny group of cancer cells that can grow into a full-blown tumour.

In some men, prostate cancer that isn’t treated can spread and cause death.

Can Prostate Cancer be Prevented?

There is no sure way to prevent a man from getting prostate cancer today.

Who is at Risk?

At least 850 Kenyan men will die of prostate cancer this year (and probably many more). It is one of the most common cancers in men. Prostate cancer is more common in older men.

What Can I Do About It?

•Regular physical exams and a simple blood test (called a PSA test) are the keys to early diagnosis. You can start having regular physical exams and PSA tests in your mid 40s.
•If you have a family history of prostate cancer, you should start having regular tests earlier.
•Early diagnosis will allow you to have early treatment, if this is necessary.
•If prostate cancer is diagnosed and treated early, then your risk of dying from this illness is small.
•If prostate cancer is diagnosed late (when it has spread to other parts of the body), then prostate cancer cannot be cured.
•Early stage prostate cancer causes no symptoms…BUT … just because you have no symptoms does not mean that there is no cancer. You can have a potentially life threatening, early stage prostate cancer even if you have no symptoms.
•By comparison, late stage prostate cancer can and commonly does cause symptoms. For example, late stage prostate cancer can cause severe need to urinate (“urgency”), and if it involves the bones of the spine, prostate cancer can cause terrible pain.
•Despite the fact that prostate cancer has no definitive set of symptoms, all of the following have been identified by the National Cancer Institute (US) as possible indicators of prostate cancer —and of many other clinical problems:

-Needing to urinate often (especially at night)
-Not being able to urinate
-Trouble starting to urinate or trouble holding back urination
-A weak or interrupted urine flow
-Pain or a burning feeling during urination
-Difficulty having an erection
-Pain during ejaculation
-Blood in the semen or in the urine
-Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.


Myths about prostrate cancer

Myth #1 – Prostate cancer is common, but few men actually die from it. In fact, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men

Myth #2 – Prostate cancer is only found in elderly men. While it is true that prostate cancer is more common with increasing age, it can be found in men of all ages.

Myth #3 – If you don’t have any symptoms, then you don’t have prostate cancer. Today, because of the widespread use of the PSA test for prostate cancer screening, most men are actually diagnosed with prostate cancer before they have had any symptoms. However, not having these symptoms does not rule out prostate cancer.

Myth #4 – A high PSA level means that you have prostate cancer. An elevated PSA (prostate specific antigen) level can be due to many causes. Prostate cancer is one of these, but it is not the most common cause. Even simple things like riding a bicycle can elevate the PSA.

Myth #5 – If your PSA is low, then you do not have prostate cancer. A low PSA does not rule out the presence of prostate cancer. While most men with prostate cancer will have elevated PSA levels, many men each year will be diagnosed with prostate cancer who have low or normal PSA levels. A prostate biopsy is the only way to definitively diagnose prostate cancer.

Myth #6 – If your PSA is low, then you do not need a DRE (digital rectal examination). As described in Myth #5, a low PSA does not rule out prostate cancer. The DRE is the only way for your doctor to physically examine the prostate and is an important test to be coupled with the PSA test. Finding a nodule or irregularity of the prostate gland during a DRE is often the first step toward catching a prostate cancer in its early stages.

Myth #7 – Vasectomies cause prostate cancer. Numerous studies have shown no increased risk of prostate cancer in men who have undergone vasectomy.

Myth #8 – Treatment for prostate cancer always causes impotence or incontinence. While erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence are possibilities following surgery or radiation therapy for prostate cancer, it is not true that all men experience these complications. Additionally, numerous therapies and aids can improve erectile function and limit incontinence following treatment.

SOURCE: National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov

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