Prostate cancer is currently Australia’s second-most common type, affecting thousands of men and their families every year.
Some patients find they can manage the condition without clinical treatment. Others will go on to experience prostate cancer at its most aggressive, with major surgery the only option to cure or manage its severity and stay healthy.
Worryingly, prostate cancer often goes unnoticed, with many patients having no apparent symptoms during its early stages. Education is critical to helping men understand what to look out for and when to seek help, minimising the risk of cancer progressing to a stage that poses a serious health risk.
Today, we are taking a closer look at prostate cancer precursors, and what to do if you receive a positive diagnosis.
- Men At A High Risk Of Prostate Cancer
- Common Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer
- Prostatitis: A Precursor To Cancer?
- PSA screening
- Digital Rectal Examination (DRI) Test
- Genomic Testing
- MRI Diagnosis Of Prostate Cancer
Precursors Of Prostate Cancer
In Australia, 1 in 5 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer by age 85. And many of these won’t experience any symptoms at all.
Unfortunately, prostate cancer doesn’t always present itself in an obvious way – certainly, during its early stages. Often, when symptoms emerge, the cancer has already progressed to the point where treatment becomes critical. So, when symptoms are minimal, how do men know what to look out for as a sign of having cancer?
Men At A High Risk Of Prostate Cancer
Research shows several commonalities between men given a prostate cancer diagnosis. Those most at risk of a positive diagnosis include:
- Men aged 65+
- Men with a family history of cancer – a direct male relative (father or brother) with prostate cancer or a female relative with breast cancer
- Men who are overweight
Early diagnosis of prostate cancer is critical to managing the disease effectively. If you find yourself in one of the high-risk groups, it is essential you go for screening as early as possible and definitely by the age of 40.
Common Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer
When prostate cancer is left undiagnosed, it can progress quickly. Once on-set, a number of symptoms may present themselves, including:
- frequent urination – especially at night
- pain when urinating
- blood in the urine or seminal fluid
- unexplained weight loss
Of course, symptoms alone do not confirm cancer is present, and screening becomes essential to determine their cause. To complicate the matter further, these symptoms are common in men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia – or BHP – which causes the prostate to enlarge. BHP is benign and easily treated by surgery. Either way, if you are currently experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, you are encouraged to seek medical advice immediately for diagnostics.
Prostatitis: A Precursor To Cancer?
It is worth mentioning Prostatitis, which is highly common in men of all ages. Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate and causes pain in all areas of the body, which can become uncomfortable to many patients. It is usually resolved quickly by a course of antibiotics.
Many people ask us, is Prostatitis a precursor to cancer? While many prostate cancer patients will have experienced Prostatitis at some stage because it is so common, it doesn’t mean one has caused the other. Research to date is mixed, with some studies showing links and others not.
Are you in a high-risk group for prostate cancer? Talk to our team.
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
Whether you are experiencing symptoms of prostate cancer, or in a high-risk group, the only way to know whether you have prostate cancer is to undergo tests.
Thankfully, these days we have multiple tests to help medical teams determine whether a patient is positive and, if so, the stage their cancer has reached.
Prostate Cancer Diagnostic Tests
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood testing screens the prostate cells for normal and abnormal behaviour. While no definitive PSA level is considered ‘normal’, it is generally accepted that the higher the PSA levels, the greater the likelihood cancer is present.
PSA testing is a starting point only and requires other tests to confirm the cancer.
Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) Test
A DRE test is another way to test patients for prostate cancer. It is an internal examination, performed by a doctor or urologist, who physically assess the prostate for abnormality. If the prostate feels hard or lumpy, this may indicate cancer is present. Further testing is required to confirm whether this is the case.
The Oncotype DX prostate test determines when cancer is present and how aggressive it is. The test starts with a biopsy, with the sample used to create a Genomic Prostate Score and predict the behaviour of the cancer cells over time.
MRI Diagnosis Of Prostate Cancer
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a widely used procedure to scan the body’s internal organs for defects. A prostate MRI shows cancer cells in detail, detecting even the smallest tumours. Areas for concern then undergo a biopsy to confirm whether the tumour is cancerous. Together, MRI and biopsy provide a highly effective method for diagnosis.
Need help with testing and prostate cancer diagnosis? Talk to our team.
When To seek Treatment For Prostate Cancer
Each year, thousands of men in Australia suffer from a prostate condition, including those classed as non-cancerous. While Prostatitis and BHP require treatment, both are relatively easy conditions to deal with and pose no threat to life.
Depending on its diagnosed stage, prostate cancer is not always seen as life-threatening either. In its early stages, prostate cancer is usually restricted to the prostate gland (confined) and manageable. However, there is always a chance of secondary tumours in other body areas requiring major treatment to remove the cancer.
Regardless of the stage, if you receive a positive prostate cancer diagnosis, you need to seek medical advice.
Active surveillance allows thousands of men to manage their cancer by monitoring its progress. For those who continue with low-grade cancer, there is no need for invasive cancer therapy. Of course, if the condition deteriorates, the medical team won’t hesitate to put a patient forward for treatment – whether it’s for a prostatectomy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy.
The key thing to remember is whatever stage your prostate cancer diagnosis reaches, there is a treatment to help you. Finding the right one for the circumstance is critical to continue leading a happy, healthy life.
Are you in a high-risk group and wanting a prostate cancer diagnostic test? Or do you have a recent test result and require a second opinion about the diagnosis or suggested treatment?
Katelaris Urology is an expert in prostate cancer and treatments, with a qualified professional team ready to support your needs, whatever your age or situation.
If you have questions or require help with managing your prostate cancer, don’t hesitate to contact our team today.
2GB Radio discusses all things Prostate Cancer with Dr Phillip Katelaris:
Cancer Council of Australia