Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers found in men and usually, 1 in 8 men are diagnosed with it. Most often, prostate issues are noticed when men face difficulty with passing urine.
Prakash Nanda, a 60 year old man, had been waking up multiple times during the night because he felt the need to urinate. “I was barely able to sleep because I had to wake up so often” he told us. “And when I tried to pass urine, I had this nagging feeling of not being done. But there wasn’t enough urine passing either.”
When Prakash discussed these issues with his family doctor, he was asked to see a urologist. “I was told that I might have prostate issues” he said. Prakash’s urological examination revealed that he had an enlarged prostate which was leading to his urinary trouble.
“Prakash’s symptoms were quite typical of an enlarged prostate” says Dr. S.V. Kotwal one of the best surgeons for Prostate Cancer and senior Urologist at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital. “All issues with an enlarged prostate don’t automatically mean prostate cancer, but you should still have yourself checked if you face similar trouble.”
According to Dr. Kotwal, prostate cancer has a wide spectrum of aggressiveness and most of the diagnosed cases are found to be the non-aggressive kind. “If you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer after 75 years of age, it’s unlikely to become a life threatening problem at this stage” he says. “The time it takes to become life-threatening is roughly 10 years.”
After your examination, the doctor might prescribe more tests if your prostate does appear to be enlarged. “I was told to have an ultrasound and a PSA test done to see what was going on” says Prashant. “I was even prepared to go in for an MRI if the first two tests didn’t reveal anything.”
The MRI scan looks at the prostate organ’s structure. The PSA test, also known as the Prostate Specific Antigen test, is a blood test that determines whether the organ has prostate cancer. But PSA is not specific to cancer alone, it may be raised in infections and other conditions, including a recent catheterization.
Treatment for prostate cancer depends on how aggressive the cancer is. “Sometimes, we do find aggressive cancers” Dr. Kotwal explains. “Radical treatment becomes necessary especially if the prostate cancer is still within the prostate only (localized).” If the prostate cancer has locally advanced, it could be treated with radiation or hormone therapy.
If the cancer has metastasized, i.e. spread to other parts of the body, then hormone therapy and chemotherapy might be needed.
The incidence of prostate cancer has increased over the last 30 years and doctors feel that delaying a check up is not advisable.
“If you have any issues with passing urine, it’s best to consult with a urologist who will conduct a detailed examination” says Dr. Kotwal. “We want you to pay particular attention to these symptoms if a close or immediate family member has had prostate cancer on your father’s side. Prostate cancer can be genetically acquired.”
Prashant’s tests revealed an enlarged prostate but there was no cancer found. “I’m glad I didn’t ignore any of my symptoms. And I’m definitely going to stay regular with my annual exams now” said a visibly relieved Prashant.