Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer, and the sixth leading cause of cancer death among men worldwide. Data from national cancer registries shows that incidence of this kind of cancer is on the rise in India, though oncologists say that it is not the incidence which is on the rise but the detection.
“It is not the incidence but the detection of prostate cancer that has increased which makes people believe that the number of cases is on the rise,” says leading urologist Dr Vineet Malhotra, Consultant at Rockland Hospital, Delhi.
“Earlier this kind of cancer used to go undetected. The PSA test that is done for screening was a rarity in younger population. We only got to know about it when the men came to us with visible symptoms,” he adds. “But now we regularly advise all men above 50 years of age to undergo this test and people have become more aware and conscious,” says Dr Malhotra. This in turn means that more lives can be saved.
The symptoms of prostate cancer are very common and can be confused with the other diseases. This is all the more reason to undergo regular health checks.
The symptoms include any sort of trouble in urination, chronic pain in lower back, pelvis, upper thighbones, or other bones, swelling in legs or weakness in legs or difficulty in walking. If along with these symptoms, a person has an unexplained weight loss, it is time to run to a doctor.
“Generally prostate cancer appears in men above 60 years of age. But the PSA test can detect it at least five-10 years before the actual signs appear. Once a PSA test detects it, we generally advise a patient to go in for surgery as it is the safest way of curing the disease,” says Dr Malhotra.
“This is because by the time symptoms appear, it gets too late for curative treatment. Then we can only give medicines for the control of cancer,” he adds.
Health experts inform that normally hormonal therapy (anti-testosterone harmones) is given for controlling the spread of prostate cancer. Then again it is not a very safe therapy for all as new studies have revealed that hormone therapy received by men diagnosed with prostate cancer may pose risk to those who have previously suffered a heart attack.
A study done by Britain’s Yale Cancer Centre shows that apart from men at risk of cardiac diseases even those at low risk for biochemical failure do not benefit from hormone therapy. Only younger patients with fewer cardiac risk factors gain the most from hormone therapy, it says.
All this means the age of a patient, his cardiac risk and disease recurrence risk has to be considered before going in for hormone therapy.
So what can you do to prevent the disease from hitting you?
There is little preventive care, say experts. But it is imperative that one takes a nutrient-rich, low-fat diet.
“Prostate is aggravated by a fatty diet. And fat is also linked to many other diseases as well. So it’s always better to go slow on fat,” says Dr Malhotra.
“Plus one must also adopt a healthy lifestyle by including regular physical exercise in the daily routine,” he adds. “And all men above 50 years of age must, must undergo PSA test so that in case it is positive we can save your lives,” remarks Dr Malhotra.