Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer among Singapore men. It occurs in the prostate gland, which is located below a man’s bladder that surrounds the urethra.
Most prostate cancer develop slowly and stay isolated in the prostate gland, where they do not cause serious harm. However, some types of prostate cancer grow aggressively and spread quickly to other parts of the body.
Your risk of getting prostate cancer may increase if you:
- Are at an older age, especially for men aged 50 and above
- Have a family history of prostate cancer
- Are obese
- Have a diet that is high in fat
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Symptoms do not show for some types of non-aggressive prostate cancer, especially in the early stages. Most symptoms will only appear when the cancer has reached the advanced stages.
Those with prostate cancer may experience symptoms such as:
As your prostate is located under the bladder, a tumour could put pressure on your bladder or urethra, therefore causing problems while urinating. You may feel an increased need to urinate, experience a slow stream of urine or find blood in your urine.
You may experience erectile dysfunction if you have prostate cancer, where you will be unable to maintain an erection.
Blood in the semen
Blood in the semen may also occur if you are suffering from advanced prostate cancer.
If you notice any symptoms, make an appointment to get a checkup. It is important that you receive the correct diagnosis and treatment, because some prostate cancer symptoms are caused by other underlying health conditions.
Diagnosing Prostate Cancer
If your doctor suspects you have prostate cancer, he or she may conduct these tests to confirm the symptoms:
Digital rectal exam
Your doctor will insert a gloved finger into your rectum to inspect your prostate for any hard lumps, which may be indicative of prostate cancer.
Your doctor may request for a blood test to check the amount of protein produced by your prostate.
A sample of your prostate gland will be removed by your doctor, and sent to the laboratory for testing.
Treatment for Prostate Cancer
Depending on your age, health, and stage of your prostate cancer, your doctor will suggest an appropriate treatment plan for you. Common treatments include:
- Close monitoring
- Hormone therapy
Men with low-risk or slow-growing prostate cancer may not require immediate treatment. Your doctor may recommend regular follow-ups or testing to monitor the progression of your cancer. If the tests indicate your cancer is progressing, you will be advised to undergo treatment for the cancer.
Surgery usually removes the entire prostate gland. During the surgery, an incision will be made at your lower abdomen, and your surgeon will remove the gland through the incision. He / she may also use a robot to assist with the surgery to allow for more precise movements.
Chemotherapy involves giving you anti-cancer drugs. They are either injected into your vein (intravenously), under the skin (subcutaneously), or taken orally. These drugs enter your bloodstream and target the rapidly growing cancer cells.
Doctors give chemotherapy treatments in cycles, with each period of treatment followed by a rest period to allow the body time to recover. Chemotherapy cycles generally last two to four weeks, and treatment typically involves four to six cycles.
Radiation therapy uses high-powered x-rays to kill cancer cells, while minimising damage to healthy cells. Depending on your condition, radiation may be used as primary treatment for prostate cancer in conjunction with other treatments, or to kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery.
Hormone medications may be given to slow down the growth of your prostate cancer, or prepare your body for other forms of treatment. Although this is a suitable treatment method for prostate cancer of any stage, it is usually used for recurring or advanced prostate cancer.
Talk to us to understand more about the different treatment options, and find out the ones that are most suitable for you.
Post Treatment Care for Prostate Cancer
To prevent prostate cancer from recurring, your doctor will work with you to come up with the appropriate post treatment care and schedule regular follow-up visits. During the visits, he / she will check if your cancer has responded to the treatment, and help you manage any side effects that you may experience.