Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among men. However, for some men, there may not be any symptoms until the condition turns more severe. Thankfully, prostate cancer can be managed with appropriate treatment — and the success of treatment improves with early detection of the health condition.
We speak with Dr. Manuel C. See IV, a urologist who treats issues affecting the genital and urinary tract, to get answers to the most frequently asked questions about prostate cancer.
Who is at greatest risk of prostate cancer?
Your risk of prostate cancer increases as you get older. “Men who are older than 50 years old are already at risk for prostate cancer which is the most common type of cancer in men worldwide,” says Dr. Manuel.
You may also be more likely to get prostate cancer if your father, brother, or other close biological relative has had it.
What causes prostate cancer?
“Prostate cancer has no known etiology or causes,” shares Dr. Manuel. “It may also be genetic, especially if it’s diagnosed in men younger than 40 years old.”
Some studies have linked prostate inflammation and prostate cancer. According to one theory, inflammation may cause DNA damage in cells, which could make a healthy cell develop into a cancer cell.
What can we do to reduce the risk of prostate cancer?
Even though there is no sure way to prevent prostate cancer, there are some things you can do that might lower your risk of getting it.
Maintaining an ideal, healthy body weight, staying active and exercising, and having a balanced diet might help lower your risk of being diagnosed. “You can also consume food rich in lycopene, like tomatoes, which helps with reducing your risk,” shares Dr. Manuel.
Additionally, schedule regular health screening appointments, to ensure that you catch any possible health conditions early. You can also pen in routine health appointments with your doctor to share any health concerns or questions you may have. Get in touch with your doctor if you notice any changes to your genital or urinary health.
Are there any self-examinations that we should do for early detection?
Self-examinations have the potential to cause injury because the prostate is an internal gland. Only a qualified, licensed medical expert can assess how the prostate feels to determine the overall health of your prostate accurately. This could be done through a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE), in which the doctor inserts a finger into the rectum while wearing gloves and lubricant to feel the prostate gland.
Prostate-specific antigen levels in your blood can also be checked in order to detect the cancer early. “Luckily, we have a blood exam to screen for prostate cancer. It is called Prostate Specific Antigen, or PSA. Men 50 years old and above should have this done annually. If you’re at a higher risk for prostate cancer, such as having a relative with prostate cancer, you can start going for a PSA as early as 45 years of age,” says Dr. Manuel.
How is prostate cancer treated?
Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is appropriate for your situation.
“Treatment for prostate cancer varies with the stage and grade of the prostate cancer. We also consider the age of the patient on diagnosis and medical condition. Prostate cancer can be treated surgically by removing the prostate, radiation, hormonal and chemotherapy,” says Dr. Manuel.
When should we see a doctor?
It’s time to see a doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms:
Weak urine stream
Difficulty with starting to urinate or pee
A sudden need to pee
Painful or a burning sensation while peeing
Feeling like your bladder isn’t empty after peeing
Blood in your urine or semen
Pain or discomfort in your pelvis, hips, or back that doesn’t go away
Problem with maintaining an erection
If you experience any of these symptoms, see a urologist or a men’s health doctor as soon as possible via the Doctor Anywhere app. Our medical experts will provide you with advice on possible screening and treatment options.