What is the prostate?
Prostate is a gland present in men only, like women have the uterus. The prostate is located at the base of the urinary bladder. It produces semen, and therefore is a reproductive organ. After the age of 40 the prostate may start enlarging due to benign enlargement, but is certain cases the gland may develop cancer too.
What causes prostate cancer?
The exact reason for formation of the prostate cancer is not known. However, family history of prostate cancer is a strong predictive factor for development of the cancer. Therefore, if a family has a history of prostate cancer then all men of the family after the age of 40 should be screened for prostate cancer once per year.
How can the cancer be prevented?
The cancer can be prevented by healthy life style and diet. Since prostate is a sexual gland therefore regular intercourse and semen discharge can also help in reducing the chance of cancer development.
How can the cancer be detected early?
Prostate cancer screening is a valuable tool to detect these cancers early and therefore in the treatable phase of the cancer. This is performed by a yearly evaluation of the serum PSA and also a physical examination by the uro oncosurgeon.
PSA is a protein which is secreted by the prostate and is a part if the seminal ejaculate. This protein is detectable in very small quantities in the blood normally. PSA can increase in the blood whenever the prostate is damaged. This damage can occur, by infection or retention of urine and also by the presence of a cancer.
Therefore, per rectal examination by a uro cancer surgeon and also the estimation of the serum PSA level, allows us to detect the cancer in the early stages.
How can the cancer presence be confirmed?
If the cancer presence is suspected then the uro-cancer surgeon advises for a dynamic MRI evaluation. The MRI is a very good tool to look for the cancer since PSA elevation can be caused by non-malignant reasons also, like infection of the prostate and also retention of urine.
However, if the cancer presence has been also indicated by the MRI, then the surgeon advises the performance of a transrectal biopsy of the prostate. The biopsy is the only test which can confirm the presence of the cancer.
How can the cancer be treated?
The gold standard of care for this cancer is laparoscopic radical surgery of the prostate. This surgery is performed by laparoscopy, wherein the surgeon operated via key holes, without cutting the abdomen. The prostate along with the cancer and the seminal vesicle are removed.
Since the surgery is performed by inserting small machines in the abdomen via the key holes therefore the patient has very little pain and recovers very fast.
What is the expected life and quality of life after the treatment of prostate cancer?
These patients have very good quality of life after surgery. The patient are able to retain urine very well, are able to work and travel, and generally have very long survival after this surgery.
Therefore the take home message is
1 prostate cancer is one of the commonest cancers affecting men
2 healthy lifestyle and regular sexual activity helps reduce the chance if the cancer
3 Cancer detection can be performed by a regular prostate cancer screening
4 serum PSA estimation is very important tool
5 treatment of this cancer is by machine driven laparoscopic radical prostate surgery