The prostate is a gland located in the male reproductive system and its function is focused on producing the liquid that is part of the semen. As men age, the prostate will naturally increase in size. But, sometimes, this increase in size will be the result of the presence of prostate cancer.
Dr. Aarón Torres García, a specialist in oncological urology at the ABC Medical Center indicates that prostate cancer is a global public health problem, becoming the main cause of death in the male population of Mexico.
Various studies estimate that one in 13 men will suffer from prostate cancer at some point in his life and that one in seven will die as a result of this disease.
Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the gland begin to grow out of control. Although adenocarcinomas are the most common type of cancer that occurs in the prostate, other variants such as small cell carcinomas, neuroendocrine tumors, transitional cell carcinomas, and sarcomas can also arise.
Currently, although prostate cancer is the main cause of death in men, the reality is that it is also a type of cancer that is completely curable, as long as it is detected early.
The reason for the severity of this disease is due to the fact that, in its initial stage and when it is curable, it does not generate symptoms and, as a result, men do not have timely treatment.
Once, in a more advanced stage, prostate cancer can present different symptoms such as:
- Urination problems.
- Changes in the force and flow of urine.
- Blood in urine or semen.
- Unintentional weight loss.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Pain in the hip, back, chest or other areas of the body.
- Numbness or weakness in the legs or feet.
Due to these characteristics, Dr. Aarón Torres García indicates that the optimal thing for every man is to have an early diagnosis, which will allow him to receive the indicated treatment and thus avoid dangerous consequences for his life.
For the prevention and detection of prostate cancer before presenting any symptoms, two tests are used:
A digital rectal exam, also known as a DRE or digital rectal exam, allows the doctor to feel for the presence of cancerous growths or hardened areas in the gland.
While the test of prostate antigen (PSA), allows to measure the levels of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance produced in the prostate and, depending on the size of the gland, the ranges that are detected for this substance will also vary and could be an indication of the presence of prostate cancer, although the increase is not exclusive to this disease. .
Each of these tests has its own success rate. When performing the rectal examination and the doctor does not perceive anything abnormal, it means that there is a 60% chance of not having prostate cancer. On the other hand, when performing the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test and obtaining normal results, the chances that the person has prostate cancer is only 45% and the certainty of not having it is only 58%.
But, if the person performs both the DRE test and the prostate specific antigen test together, and the results are normal for both, the certainty of not having prostate cancer increases to 94%, this It will allow you to have greater certainty in your results.
On the other hand, if one or both results are abnormal, the doctor may request a biopsy of the prostate. This method is the definitive diagnosis that will indicate the presence, or not, of cancer in the prostate.
As a result of this, Dr. Torres García urges to eliminate the common belief of “why should I check myself, if I don’t feel anything?”. Especially in prostate cancer, during its early stages you do not feel anything, that is, it is totally asymptomatic, but once people start to have symptoms, it is because metastasis has occurred and there is pain of a important shape.
The risk factors that must be taken into account and that affect the development of prostate cancer are:
- Age. Age is one of the main factors affecting the development of prostate cancer. From the age of 50 the possibility of suffering from this disease is greater; while more than 80% of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older.
- Race. Race also carries a change in the chances of getting prostate cancer. Black men are at increased risk compared to white men; Also, the age from which they can suffer from it is younger and the tumors that they present can be both more aggressive and grow faster. On the other hand, Hispanic men have a lower risk of developing this type of cancer and of dying from the disease.
- Genetic factors. Familial prostate cancer is the name for this cancer that can be inherited in a family. Developing due to a combination of genes that is shared by the parents, as well as environmental and lifestyle factors. In cases where there is a first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer, the chances of also developing it double.
- Diet. Although it has not been proven that food and eating habits can cause or prevent the development of prostate cancer; A healthy diet low in animal fats is recommended for best health.
- hormonal factors. Some studies indicate that by presenting testosterone or IGF1 values at the high limit, the possibility of developing prostate cancer can be increased.
When should I have a checkup?
Dr. Torres García recommends that the optimal age to start performing both the digital rectal examination and the prostate specific antigen test (PSA test) is at 45 years of age, and once every year from then on. While for men who have high risk factors: first-degree relatives with prostate cancer, African-Americans, etc. It is recommended that they also have a digital rectal exam once a year, but a prostate specific antigen test twice a year; all this with the aim of detecting the appearance of prostate cancer in its initial stages and at a time when it can be cured.
come to the ABC Medical Centerwhere you can make your urology consultations, as well as perform digital rectal examinations and specific prostate antigens.