October is #ProstateCancerAwareness Month

What is Prostate Cancer?

The Prostate Gland is a male reproductive organ whose main function is to secrete prostate fluid, one of the components found in semen. The prostate is below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The size of the prostate changes with age. In younger men, it is about the size of a walnut, but it can be much larger in older men. Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow uncontrollably.

Who does it affect?

Prostate Cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Nigerian men.

Prostate cancer affects mainly older men. About 80% of cases are in men over 65, and less than 1% of cases are in men under 50. Men with a family history of prostate cancer are more likely to get it.

But in a society where the man is the nucleus of the family,the disease affects everyone around him due to the deteriorated health and sometimes death caused by the disease.

What are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is a very sneaky form of cancer and can go undetected right up onto the point it has reached the final stages. If there are early symptoms they might include;

  • Difficulty starting and stopping urine

  • Frequent urination (especially at night)

  • Pain or burning during urination or ejaculation

  • Blood or pus in the urine or semen

  • Consistent pain in the back, hips and pelvic

  • Fatigue, Anemia.

Early Detection, Make it a Habit!

Because Prostate Cancer is hard to detect during the early stages, we advice that men with a history of prostate cancer in the family get themselves checked at least once a year after the age of 40 and others after the age of 60. The tests to detect prostate cancer are very sensitive and can catch the cancer during the very early stages.

How is Prostate Cancer Tested?

  1. PSA blood test: PSA is a substance in the blood that’s made by the prostate gland. Prostate cancer can make PSA levels go up. Blood tests will be done to see what your PSA level is and how it changes over time.

  2. Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS): A small wand is put into your rectum. The echoes from the sound waves of the wand are made into a picture on a computer screen.

  3. Prostate biopsy: For a biopsy the doctor takes out a small piece of tissue where the cancer seems to be. This tissue is checked for cancer cells.

  4. Lymph (limf) node biopsy: A lymph node biopsy may be done if the doctor thinks the cancer might have spread from the prostate to nearby lymph nodes.

  5. CAT scan: It’s a kind of x-ray that can show whether the cancer has spread outside the prostate.

  6. Bone scan: This test may be done to see if the cancer has spread to your bones. A special camera finds the radioactivity and makes a picture of your bones.

  7. MRI: Uses radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays to make clear pictures. MRI scans can show the prostate gland and can show if the cancer has spread outside the prostate.