The prostate is important for male sexual health and for reproductive health. There are numerous problems that can affect the prostate, which, in turn, can also affect a man’s ability to reproduce and his ability to have sexual intercourse without any problems interfering with his abilities.
Prostate cancer is one particular problem that is relatively common and, undiagnosed and untreated, can cause erectile dysfunction, pain in the genital area and urinary symptoms that do not only affect a man’s sexual performance, but also his quality-of-life. There are numerous methods in which prostate cancer can be diagnosed, ranging from a PSA test for men to a biopsy.
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According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 14% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. The majority of these cases will be diagnosed amongst men aged older than 65, with the average age of prostate cancer diagnosis being approximately 66 years of age. The condition is extremely rare amongst men younger than 40, but still possible.
The earlier prostate cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successfully treating the disease and ensuring cancer does not spread to other parts of the man’s body. There are numerous tests that can be performed in order to determine if a man has prostate cancer. The PSA test for men, in particular, has become very popular, but there are some concerns regarding this particular test.
How Serious is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is considered a relatively serious type of cancer, but only when the disease is not diagnosed at an early phase and when it goes untreated. The disease is the third leading cause of death when it comes to looking at statistics related to deaths due to cancer &ndash, but this only accounts for statistics amongst men. Approximately one in every 39 men diagnosed with prostate cancer will die from the disease.
What Are the Causes and Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer?
As with many other types of cancer, medical experts are not 100% sure what exactly causes cells within the prostate to malfunction and become cancerous. Thus, the exact causes of prostate cancer are not well understood yet, but medical experts have detected certain risk factors that can increase a man’s chance of developing and being diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, age seems to play a significant role in a man’s risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. The disease is extremely rare amongst men who have not yet reached the age of 40 and is most common amongst men older than 65 years of age. When a man has a family history of prostate cancer, he is also at a significantly higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Furthermore, a family history of breast cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer also seems to up a man’s risk of prostate cancer.
A link between the risk of prostate cancer has race has also been identified by medical professionals. It was found that men who are of the African-American race are at a higher risk of both developing prostate cancer and dying from the disease.
Lastly, we should also note that some lifestyle factors and dietary habits have also been shown to increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer. Obesity, for example, is known to contribute greatly to prostate cancer.
How are you Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer?
Before a man can be treated for prostate cancer, the first step is to be diagnosed with the disease first, obviously. Numerous tests can be conducted in order to diagnose a man with prostate cancer but, in most cases, one single test won’t allow a medical professional to make an official diagnosis.
The very first step to diagnosing prostate cancer usually starts with a DRE, or a digital rectum exam, as reported by Mayo Clinic.
This is a particular test that a doctor usually conducts on a male patient during regular screenings of his overall health, even if prostate cancer is not particularly suspected. This is because prostate cancer might not always cause early signs and symptoms to develop, which is why it is important for this particular exam to be conducted in order to detect the disease before it becomes problematic.
Should the medical professional performing the digital rectum exam detect any abnormalities, such as an enlargement of the man’s prostate, he may request further tests to be performed in order to determine the possibility that the abnormality might be caused by prostate cancer.
A PSA test for men has often requested should the digital rectum exam cause any concern. A PSA test determines, as the name suggests, the level of PSA in the man’s prostate. Many people wonder what a high PSA level in their prostate means – PSA is a term that describes prostate-specific antigens, a particular substance that is only found within the prostate gland in the male body.
A link has been made between a high level of prostate-specific antigens and prostate cancer. Even though such a link has been made, however, it does not necessarily mean that man with a high PSA level has prostate cancer for sure. Should an high PSA level be detected in a man after a digital rectum exam has caused some concerns, a doctor may request a biopsy to provide a final diagnosis and to determine whether the man is suffering from prostate cancer.
Even though a PSA test is a popular test conducted to determine whether a man might have prostate cancer, it should be noted that this test cannot allow a doctor to make an official diagnosis without any further tests. The problem is, there are many factors that can affect the PSA count in a man, other than prostate cancer, and, at the same time, a man with prostate cancer might not always have a high PSA level.
According to the American Cancer Society, factors such as old age and an enlarged prostate are known to increase levels of PSA in the man’s prostate. Some medication, such as those used in testosterone replacement therapy, is also known to cause PSA levels to be higher in a man. Other factors that may also increase PSA levels in the male body include prostatitis, some types of urological procedures and if the man has recently ejaculated.
Likewise, some factors can cause PSA levels to decrease amongst men; thus producing a lower PSA count even if the man has prostate cancer. Some particular factors that are known to reduce PSA levels in the male prostate include the utilization of certain herbal supplements, as well as obesity. The use of Thiazide diuretics, aspirin, statins and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors have also been proven to reduce PSA levels in men.
Prostate cancer is a commonly diagnosed type of cancer amongst men, and can become deadly when not treated before the condition spreads to other parts of the man’s body. The treatment of this disease can only commence once an official diagnosis was made. Thus, diagnosing the disease is an important step, which can be done through numerous tests and examinations, including a PSA test for men. In this post, we described particular problems that medical professionals face with this particular test, as well as discussed other means of testing for and diagnosing prostate cancer.
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