What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer occurs when some of the prostate cells reproduce more rapidly than is normal, resulting in swelling or a tumour. Prostate cancer cells eventually invade other parts of the body, usually the bones and lymph nodes, producing secondary tumours ('metastasis'). Treatment is still possible once the cancer escapes the prostate, but currently there is no cure. It can be a slow-growing cancer, and tends to be more aggressive in younger men.
Early (localised) prostate cancer refers to cancer cells that have grown but do not appear to have spread beyond the prostate.
There are two stages of advanced prostate cancer:
- locally advanced prostate cancer where the cancer has spread outside the prostate to nearby parts of the body or glands close to the prostate
- metastatic prostate cancer where the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body.
How prevalent is prostate cancer?
In 2018 it is estimated that 3500 men in Australia will die from prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer incidence and the second leading cause of cancer mortality in Australian men. 50 men each day receive a life-changing prostate cancer diagnosis. Early detection and treatment is essential for a good prognosis. Since this disease mainly affects men in their early fifties, its incidence is expected to increase significantly over time as a result of Australia's ageing population. Evidence indicates that the economic and social burden of prostate cancer will rise extensively, unless there are significant scientific breakthroughs that are translated into alterations in clinical management.
What is involved in the diagnosis for prostate cancer?
Diagnosing prostate cancer includes digital rectal examinations of the prostate and testing for elevated levels of a protein called Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). If either of these tests is abnormal, then a biopsy of the prostate will be performed. This biopsy is used to determine how aggressive the tumour is and what type of treatment is appropriate. Before any of these tests are carried out, the first step is to open up a dialogue around prostate cancer during annual GP visits to make an informed choice about whether to have a test and what type of test would be most suitable.
How is prostate cancer treated?
Treatment for prostate cancer will be determined by the extent of the cancer however are primarily:
- radiation therapy
- hormonal therapy, and
What are the chances of recovery?
If appropriate treatment is started while the cancer is still solely in the prostate gland, a cure is possible. This is why early diagnosis is critical. There are a wide range of programs and groups available to provide support and assistance to patients and their families.
Useful Prostate Cancer Guides & Websites
Australian Prostate Centre