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Prostate cancer is a malignant tumour that grows in the prostate, a walnut-sized gland below the bladder in men that produces semen. Most prostate cancers are slow-growing but there are aggressive cases, and the cancer can spread to other parts of the body, especially the bones and lymph nodes.
In many cases, there are no symptoms, and it is believed that as many as 80 per cent of men who reach the age of 80 will have prostate cancer. As most cases are slow-growing, many will, in fact, die of other ailments of old age without ever realising that they have the cancer.
When symptoms do emerge in more advanced stages, they include weight loss, pelvic pain, back or hip pain and urinary difficulties, such as burning or pain during urination, the inability to urinate or blood in the urine.
Prostate cancer is graded according to the Gleason system, which measure how well or how poorly organised the cancer cells are, under the microscope.
Grade 1: Cancerous tissue looks much like normalprostate tissue.
Grade 2 to 4: Some cells look like normal cells, some do not.With features that vary in between the two extremes.
Grade 5: Cancer cells and growth patterns look very abnormal.
Since prostate cancers often have areas with different grades, a grade is assigned to the 2 areas that make up most of the cancer. These 2 grades are added together to yield the Gleason score between 6 and 10.
A Gleason score of 6 or less indicates a less aggressive cancer. A score of 7 and above is considered aggressive and more likely that the cancer will grow and spread quickly.
In some cases, because prostate cancer may take many years to progress, and treatment does have its risks, doctors may choose to simply monitor the tumour rather than treat it immediately. The indication for treatment therefore depends on many factors such as the extent of cancer, symptoms, age, and general health of the patient.
In patients with localised disease and who needs treatment, surgery and/or radiation, with or without hormonal treatment may be considered.
In patients with advanced prostate cancer, many treatment options are now available.
What Is The Best Approach To Care?
The development of a treatment plan by a multi-disciplinary team – surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, social workers and nurses to diagnose, treat and manage the condition has shown to improve the outcome for patients with cancer.
Who is at Risk of Prostate Cancer and How Can One Prevent It?
Age is one factor, with men in their 40s having a risk of just one in 200,000, in their early 50s, it jumps to 12 per 100,000, while men in their 60s have a 12 out of 10,000 chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
People, who are obese, eat excessive amounts of meat or food high in animal fat also have an increased risk of prostate cancer. Also in the higher-risk group are men with a family history of prostate cancer.
A healthy lifestyle, with lower meat consumption, therefore, goes a long way in helping to prevent prostate cancer as well as other cancers.
CanHOPE is a non-profit cancer counselling and support service provided by Parkway Cancer Centre, Singapore. CanHOPE consists of an experienced, knowledgeable and caring support team with access to comprehensive information on a wide range of topics in education and guidelines in cancer treatment.
The CanHOPE team will journey with patients to provide support and personalised care, as they strive to share a little hope with every person encountered.