The screening tests for Prostate Cancer were on a decline for the last two decades because of which many men are being diagnosed with advanced stages of Prostate Cancer. These stages are difficult to treat as they do not respond well to treatment protocols. Because of the decline in the screening for Prostate Cancer in the last two decades, many patients are now presenting with advanced levels of the disease which do not respond to the available treatment methods and can spread to other parts of the body as well.
This decline is because many experts recommend against the use of Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) in healthy men. This is because doctors were diagnosing and treating Prostate Cancer in older men whose condition might progress so slowly that they might die of other complications and diseases before their cancer progressed to metastatic stage. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended against the use of PSA in men older than 70 years of age because of these concerns.
Prostate Cancer is a type of cancer which occurs in the prostate gland of men. The prostate gland is a small gland present in the reproductive system of men which produces seminal fluid which provides nourishment to the sperms. This seminal fluid also provides a medium to the sperms for their movement and transport. This is a common type of cancer and is generally confined to the prostate gland.
This type of cancer usually does not lead to any serious complications in patients and can be cured completely. However, if this cancer is diagnosed in the later stages then it becomes resistant to the treatment methods available and can also spread to other regions of the body.
This is called metastasis of the cancer and the prognosis of the patient worsens after they reach this stage. Some types of Prostate Cancer grow slowly and require only minimal treatments while some types can grow more aggressively and rapidly leading to faster metastasis in the patient.
Symptoms and Causes of Prostate Cancer
There are generally no symptoms in the early stages of Prostate Cancer. Advanced Prostate Cancer can present many symptoms which can prompt the patient to visit their physician and urologist. These signs and symptoms are listed below.
- Trouble in urination
- Presence of blood or semen in urine
- Bone pain
- Pain around the groin region
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Unexplained loss of weight
- Decreased force in urine stream
The cause of Prostate Cancer is not understood completely however it has been theorised that it can occur because of changes in the DNA of the cells of the Prostate gland. These cells grow and differentiate rapidly leading to the formation of a tumour in the cells.
Some of these cells can even separate from their original tissue and can travel to other parts of the body leading to the formation of tumours in other locations. There are many risk factors which can increase your risk of developing Prostate Cancer.
- Age- Prostate Cancer is more commonly seen in the elderly population. Your risk of developing Prostate Cancer increases after you reach the age of 50 years.
- Family History- If someone in your family has been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer or Breast Cancer then you should get regular checkups and screening tests. Your risk of developing Prostate Cancer increases if a blood relative has a medical history of Prostate Cancer.
- Obesity- Obese people tend to have a higher risk of developing Prostate Cancer and their symptoms are more aggressive than in people who have a healthy body weight.
- Race- Black people tend to have a higher risk of developing Prostate Cancer and the cancer tends to be more aggressive and advanced in these populations. The exact cause of this phenomenon is not understood properly yet.
Decline in the Screening Tests For Prostate Cancer
The FDA had approved the use of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) for the screening of Prostate Cancer in all individuals in 1994. In 2008, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that the PSA screening should not be used in men over the age of 75 years.
This was done because they found that many doctors were diagnosing and treating Prostate Cancer in people whose conditions were not serious or who may die due to other causes before their cancer reached the aggressive stages. This was putting a lot of pressure and workload over the healthcare providers.
Many patients also experienced side effects related to treatment methods such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. In 2012, the USPSTF recommended against the screening for Prostate Cancer in all men. In 2018, the USPSTF recommended that individuals between the age group of 55 to 70 years of age were to make their own choice about the screening after a consultation with their doctors.
They also recommended that people over the age of 70 years do not need to be screened for the presence of Prostate Cancer. This decrease in the screening tests has now resulted in an increase in the incidence of advanced Prostate Cancer.
FAQs Related to Prostate Cancer
Prostate Cancer is a type of cancer which occurs in the prostate gland of men. The prostate gland is a small gland present in the reproductive system of men which produces seminal fluid which provides nourishment to the sperms. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in men.
PSA is Prostate Specific Antigen which is used for the screening of Prostate Cancer in men. A blood sample of the patient is taken and analysed for the presence of PSA which is present in the Prostate gland and in your bloodstream in small amounts. If your blood contains higher levels of PSA then it can indicate infection or inflammation of the Prostate gland or Prostate Cancer.
PSA screening is not recommended in healthy men over the age of 70 years because they have a limited lifespan. These people can suffer a lot of side effects associated with the treatment of Prostate Cancer. It is also unlikely that the condition will become life threatening in these men.