Many men have concerns over prostate cancer as it is one of the most common cancers to occur in men. The disease is very present in our community, effecting almost 30% of men over the age of 50. Additionally, prostate cancer is caused by the mutation and changes that happen in the DNA with genetics playing a major role.
Detecting prostate cancer at an early stage can have a huge impact on the treatment and success rates. That is why it is important to pay attention to any warning signs that could indicate prostate cancer. Some of these signs include pain while urinating, blood in the urine and frequent urination.
In most cases, the symptoms of prostate cancer don’t show up until the cancer is at an advanced stage or due to benign enlargement of the prostate, which means that the majority of men would not notice any unusual signs at the beginning and only detect the cancer at a later stage.
Due to the fact that the symptoms mostly show up at a late stage, it is highly important for men to have a yearly screening protocol.
“Unlike other common cancers, prostate cancer is not a highly lethal disease, making the general public think that screening is not essential. When it comes to detecting prostate cancer and diagnosing it, screening plays an essential role. At Al Zahra Hospital Dubai, we use a smart screening protocol that is based on the World Health organization guidelines. We advise men to start screening at 50, if no risk factors exist.”
Dr. Thamir Al-Kasab, Specialist Urologist at Al Zahra Hospital Dubai.
To further explain, if any risk factors exist then the individual must start screening at an earlier age. For instance, if one is of African descent or has a family history of prostate cancer, then the recommended screening age would be 45 and older. If any previous family members have passed away due to prostate cancer, then it is necessary to start screening at 40 years of age.
A screening protocol is key to ensure the health of all men to help detect prostate cancer at an early stage and study any changes that might occur to identify when a biopsy is required, allowing for a better treatment plan.
To diagnose prostate cancer, there are many steps taken. Typically, we start with a PSA test (Prostate specific antigen) to check for the probability of prostate cancer occurring in the patient, a digital rectal examination can also aid in diagnosis. If any of the tests suggest that the patient might have prostate cancer, then we get a multiparametric pelvic MRI, which is a detailed MRI scan with an increased accuracy. If any suspicious lesion exists, a biopsy is done to detect prostate cancer.
Once diagnosed, there are different modalities for the treatment, it all depends on the type of cancer cells along with the stage it is in. In most cases, the diagnosis occurs within the first year and if detected within the first 5 years then the patients are fortunate with a cure rate of 98%. On the other hand, late diagnosis decreases the cure rate by a lot, with only a 30% chance of survival.
“One of the most common treatment options is active surveillance, where doctors carefully watch the patient’s condition and monitor through different tests. With this treatment, there is no active management done for approximately a year, instead doctors help the patient control the cancer through lifestyle modifications. This treatment has a high success rate, and usually works well with patients who were diagnosed earlier. For patients who do not fulfill the criteria of active surveillance, which is only about 30% of patients, there are many other modalities to treat the cancer which include radiotherapy, and laparoscopic removal of the prostate.”
Dr. Ahmed Hassan, Head of Urology Department at Al Zahra Hospital Dubai
Once the treatment is completed; it is highly important for the patient to follow up with doctors to remain healthy and ensure the cancer does not reoccur.