Prostate cancer – when to be concerned and how to treat the disease?

Prostate cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in Australia. Based on the findings of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, an estimated 19,508  new cases of prostate cancer have been diagnosed so far in 2019, alongside an estimated 3,306 deaths due to the disease.

Who is at risk of contracting prostate cancer?

Men over the age of 40 begin to be at risk. By age 85, an estimated one in five men have contracted prostate cancer. The risk grows with a family history of the disease, particularly within a brother or father.

It has been discovered that obese men, and men who have a diet high in fat and low in fresh fruit and vegetables have an increased likelihood of contracting prostate cancer.

There are no symptoms of prostate cancer, to pick up early prostate cancer, a digital and PSA test is required.

What are the noticeable symptoms?

When prostate cancer does cause symptoms or signs, it is usually diagnosed in a later stage. These symptoms and signs may include:
The noticeable symptoms of early-onset prostate cancer include:

  • frequent urination, especially at night
  • pain on urination
  • presence of blood in the urine
  • unexplained weight loss

Note that some of these symptoms may be similar as those for benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, which is a benign enlargement of the prostate gland. BPH is a normal part of the ageing process, and can easily be treated with prostate enlargement surgery.

If you are concerned about PC or have symptoms of BPH. that you exhibit any of the above symptoms, please refer to us at Katelaris Urology for a consultation with Dr Katelaris.

How do you diagnose prostate cancer?

The diagnosis procedure has three steps. You receive a digital prostate examination (DRE), and a PSA blood test, which screens the blood for its prostate-specific antigen level. If these tests reveal a problem, you could also undergo a biopsy for confirmation.

How effective are these tests in determining cancer?

During the DRE, the doctor will feel the prostate to ascertain whether there are any abnormalities. It is not, however, a perfect examination, and its success is largely dependent on the doctor’s experience, hence the usefulness of a second test.

The PSA is a blood test where the blood is screened for its level of prostate-specific antigens. There is no longer a generally accepted PSA level that is considered normal. It is however generally accepted that the higher the PSA levels, the greater the likelihood that it is due to cancer. If the PSA percentage continues to increase over time, it is also indicative that there is a problem.

When it comes to diagnosing prostate cancer, Cancer Council Australia warns of overdiagnosis. This is when the tests reveal that patients have prostate cancers, but where these tumours would neither cause significant harm, nor difficult symptoms for the patient.

Utilising New Technologies in the Management of Prostate Cancer

Multi-Parametric Prostate MRI Scanning can now be used to visualise the prostate and surround tissues in great detail. This technique is non-invasive and allows detection of lesions without the need for rectal access prior to biopsy.

A high strength, 3 Tesla, magnetic field combined with a multi-channel “Torso” coil provides high-quality images of the prostate gland. This technology is known as multi-parametric as it provides sophisticated information relating to the T2 weighted image of the prostate.

A 30-40 minute MRI examination is enough to evaluate the entire prostate gland and surrounding organs providing anatomical and structure information as well as detecting tumour characteristics.

Speak to Dr Katelaris for more information about MRI Scanning as an option. Read more about Multi-Parametric MRI Scanning technology.

What treatments exist for prostate cancer?

There are a few different treatment options for prostate cancer, though they all come with certain risks. The conventional options are:

  • Surgery – if the tumour is still localised to the prostate, surgery is an option. This involves the removal of the prostate in a procedure called a prostatectomy.
  • Radiation therapy – using X-rays to destroy the cancerous cells, radiation therapy can help treat cancer, decrease its size, and reduce discomfort and symptoms.
  • Hormone treatment – using hormone therapy, it is possible to slow or stop the progression of cancer’s growth. Though this is not a cure, it can lead to remission that can increase lifespan by years.

Is it necessary to treat immediately?

Sometimes, what is called ‘active surveillance’ is recommended, particularly in older men where prostate cancer growth can be very slow. Considering the dangers of the treatments, and the possible decrease in overall quality of life, happiness and wellbeing, treatment can be delayed or avoided altogether.

If you believe that you are at risk of prostate-related problems, please contact your doctor or urologist, or book a consultation with Katelaris Urology for a check-up and, if necessary, your ongoing prostate treatment.