The sooner it is detected, the chance of a cure for prostate cancer is much greater. The cancer is silent and the onset of symptoms already means that the disease is advanced. Therefore, it is essential that men over the age of 50 pay attention to preventive examinations. The prostate is responsible for producing the nutrients and fluids that make up sperm. It is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum.
Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the rectal region mutate. According to oncologist Diego Bezerra, this cancer has been the most common cancer among people with prostate for over 50 years. “According to American statistics, one in six people will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime. However, only one in 35 will die from the disease,” says the doctor. In Brazil, it is estimated that there will be 65,840 new cases of prostate cancer for each year of the three-year period 2020-2022, according to data from the Cancer Institute (Inca).
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This value corresponds to an estimated risk of 62.95 new cases per 100,000 people. Without considering non-melanoma skin cancers, prostate cancer occupies the first position in the country in all Brazilian regions, with an estimated risk of 72.35 / 100 thousand in the Northeast Region; 65.29 / 100 thousand in the Midwest region; 63.94 / 100 thousand in the South-East Region; 62.00 / 100 thousand in the Southern Region; and 29.39 / 100 thousand in the Northern Region. “In Ceará, we expect around 3,300 cases in the state, with around 980 cases in the capital, according to the Inca estimate for the year 2020,” Bezerra adds.
PEOPLE had a chat interview with the oncologist, answering the most frequently asked questions about prostate cancer. Check-out:
1 – Can prostate cancer be prevented?
Although there is controversy, tests for early detection of prostate cancer should be done annually and include PSA measurement and digital rectal examination. For most men, it is recommended that these tests begin at the age of 50 and repeat annually. For individuals with first-degree relatives with a history of prostate cancer (father and siblings), tests are indicated after age 40.
2 – In case of a positive diagnosis of the disease, how is the treatment?
For localized diseases (which have only reached the prostate and have not spread to other organs), surgery, radiation therapy, and even careful observation (in some special situations) may be offered. For locally advanced disease, radiation therapy or surgery in combination with hormone treatment has been used. For metastatic disease (when the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body), hormone therapy is the most suitable treatment. The choice of the most appropriate treatment must be individualized and defined after the doctor and patient have discussed the risks and benefits of each.
3 – Why is there still so much taboo on testing for this cancer?
The biggest taboo for performing preventive exams for prostate cancer is fear of exposure related to digital rectal exam, sexual dysfunction resulting from treatment, and loss of manhood after digital rectal exam and / or surgery.
4 – What is the importance of treating prostate cancer early?
Making an early diagnosis is more related to less aggressive therapies and a higher cure rate.
5 – Does prostate cancer affect a person’s sex life?
In some prostate cancer treatments, such as surgery, the nerves that surround the prostate and control penile erection can be damaged. The extent of this lesion depends on a number of factors, such as the location and size of the tumor and the type of treatment performed. The ability to regain control of erectile function also depends on the age of the patient and on whether he already had erection problems before surgery.
6 – Does sexual activity increase the risk of developing prostate cancer?
Some studies show that men who reported more frequent ejaculations had a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. However, ejaculation alone and its frequency have not been linked to prostate cancer.
7 – Does prostate cancer only affect older men?
Prostate cancer is more common with increasing age. However, men of all ages should be aware of personal risk factors and speak to their doctors for tests to allow for early diagnosis of the disease. About 62% of diagnosed prostate cancer cases worldwide occur in men aged 65 and over.
8 – If there is no history of prostate cancer in the person’s family, are the chances of having the disease minimal?
No. Although a family history of prostate cancer doubles the chances of getting the disease, 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Family and genetic history play an important role in a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. A man whose father had prostate cancer is twice as likely to get the disease. The risk is even greater if the cancer has been diagnosed in a family member under the age of 55 or if the disease has affected three or more family members.
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