Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer

The importance of early detection of prostate cancer cannot be overstated. The risks of it developing unnoticed are far too great. The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that prostate cancer will be found in 26,000 men each year. It is the most commonly found cancer in Canadian men and there is a 1 in 7 chance that it will happen to you. There is a 1 in 28 chance that you will die from it.  Statistics in the U.S. show 250,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. So, you see, it cannot be just ignored.


The prostate is about the size of a walnut in some men. In others it may be as large as a small apple. It produces seminal fluid which carries semen during orgasm.

It sits atop the urethra and has 2 small lobes which wrap around the urethra. It is the muscle tissue in these lobes that allow you to control the flow of urine. It is located under the bladder, in front of the rectum.

Early Signs and Detection

Because prostate cancer has few symptoms in its early stages, its very important that you pay attention and watch out for these signs.

  • An intense need to urinate
  • Frequent urination throughout the night
  • Trouble starting or stopping the flow of urine
  • Unable to urinate at all
  • Weak urine flow
  • Feeling as though your bladder is still full even after urinating
  • Pain or burning while urinating or during orgasm
  • Blood in your semen or urine

While these are prostate cancer symptoms, they do not necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. There could be other underlying health reasons that cause the same symptoms, so it is best to visit your doctor.

If you’re a man over 50 or think you have any of the prostate cancer symptoms, talk to your doctor. Tests can be done to determine whether you have prostate cancer. The first test is generally a digital rectal exam, where the doctor will insert a gloved finger into the rectum to feel if the prostate seems enlarged or hard.  If you are in a high risk category, or the doctor wants to check further, then you will probably be given a PSA or prostate-specific antigen test. This test gives a reading of protein which made by the prostate and compared to a chart for normal levels in your age range. A low PSA level of less than 4 ng/mL, would  generally indicate that no further testing is required. When PSA Levels are high or rising, your physician will want to evaluate further.

If prostate cancer is suspected, a biopsy will likely be performed. A biopsy is the only positive way to diagnose prostate cancer. Biopsy tissue samples are compared to normal prostate  tissue samples. They are then given a Gleason score of one to five, with one being normal and five being highly abnormal. Your doctor will look at the PSA scores to determine the stage of the cancer and how aggressive it is.

To confirm the presence of prostate cancer, a biopsy is usually conducted, by which a tiny portion your prostate is removed and examined for cancerous growths. If the disease is detected, the next step is to find out how far it has spread.  Your urologist will examine a tumor’s size, giving it a grade from 2 up to 10, based on a Gleason score rating system.

Your risk category will be determined by the number and size of prostate tumors, combined with your PSA levels and Gleason score. This will help determine which treatments are options for you.

Treatment options will vary depending on the risk category and how far the cancer has progressed. Your age, health, race, lifestyle and family health history will be taken into consideration to determin the best course of action.

Risk Factors

Certain men may be more susceptible to the disease than others. Men of African or Afro-Caribbean descent have an increased risk of developing it. The chance of getting prostate cancer increases with age, with 80% of men over 80 contracting the disease.

Lifestyle too can play a part. In general, eating right and leading an active lifestyle can help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.

It is important to stress the importance of early detection. The Prostate Cancer Canada Network estimates that 90% of prostate cancer cases are curable if the disease is detected and treated during its earliest stages.

Eat right, stay active and get regular screenings if you are over 50, or younger if your blood relatives (father, son, brother) have a history of prostate cancer.

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