Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland – part of the male reproductive system – and, as such, only affects men. It is more common in older men and is a very slow-progressing cancer. This makes it the cancer that reduces life expectancy by the least amount of years (an average of eight), since it usually affects men in the latter stages of life. However, recent studies show that almost 50% of men in their 50s have contracted the early stages of prostate cancer.
The Stages of Prostate Cancer
It is very important for the doctor to know in which stage the cancer is, so that they can know best which therapy is most suitable to treat the cancer. The most commonly used classification system is TNM, or Tumour/Nodes/Metastases. This takes into account the size of the tumour, the number of lymph nodes and whether there are metastases.
The cancer is then defined T1-T4. T1 and T2 cancers refer to those that are confined within the prostate gland, whilst T3 and T4 are cancers which have spread further afield.
The symptoms of prostate cancer are:
– Frequent urination, especially at night
– Difficulty or pain when urinating
– Blood in the urine
– Sexual difficulties or pain when ejaculating
As well as prostate cancer, the prostate gland is also susceptible to prostatitis. This is more common in younger man and in fact, around 50% of all men will be treated for it at some point in their life. The condition itself is not serious and does not lead to cancer. It can, however, be very uncomfortable and even painful, and sometimes tricky to alleviate. Most treatments focus on antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and, in extreme cases, surgery.
The symptoms of prostatis are:
– Fever or chills
– Muscular or back pain
– Frequent, difficult or painful urination
– Blood or urine in sperm
– Sexual difficulties
– Low sperm count
As you can see, there are many problems which are symptomatic of both prostate cancer and prostatitis. Therefore it is imperative that you seek medical attention if you suffer from any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period without an immediately obvious cause.
The causes of prostate cancer and prostatitis are not clearly defined. Old age, especially, seems to be one. However, there are other contributing factors, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help to avoid problems with the prostate. This should include:
Diet – Obesity can lead to prostate cancer, and a lot of spicy, marinated foods will also increase the chances of problems with the prostate gland.
Sexual hygiene – Studies show that those who have developed an STD, gonorrhoea in particular, are more susceptible to prostate problems. Always take precautions and use a condom during sex.
Alcohol – Avoid excessive consumption, as this can put a greater strain on the prostate and lead to problems.
Pelvic problems – Those who have pelvic injuries (sustained whilst exercising, weightlifting etc.) are more vulnerable to problems with the prostate.
Regular check-ups – If you suspect you have a problem, seek medical attention immediately. The earlier the doctor catches the problem, the more the chances of administering a successful diagnosis and treatment programme.
To book an appointment with a GP call Broadgate GP on 020 7638 4330 – Same day appointments available.