Men's Health

How Prostate Cancer Is Diagnosed

How Prostate Cancer Is Diagnosed

Key Takeaways

  • Prostate cancer is a condition that shows very few symptoms, especially in the earliest stages of its development.
  • As the disease develops in your body, it manifests different symptoms such as passing too much urine or feeling pain when urinating.
  • Genetics can also play a major role in the development of prostate cancer.

When we talk about prostate cancer, we are referring to the condition that affects the prostate gland. This condition is only found in men because only men have the prostate gland. The prostate gland is located beneath the bladder and around the urethra. The main function of the organ is to produce semen for the body.

How does prostate cancer affect your body?

Before knowing what doctors want to check for during examination for prostate cancer, it is also important to understand what happens if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer. This disease causes a continued growth of abnormal of cells in the prostate.

As time goes, the condition develops from one stage to another. Each of these stages are accompanied by the growth of more abnormal cells. The cancer starts from the inside of the prostate and forms in the outer cells. It continues into other organs such as the liver, seminal vesicles, and lymph nodes if not treated.

Prostate cancer is a condition that shows very few symptoms, especially in the earliest stages of its development. As the disease develops in your body, it manifests different symptoms such as passing too much urine or feeling pain when urinating.

In case you experience symptoms related to prostate cancer, it is always recommended to visit a doctor immediately to seek medical help. You may be worried by what your doctor would check for during your visit. Here are a number of things that doctors will look for in a prostate cancer screening:

1. Prostate-specific antigen  

During a prostate cancer screening, your doctor will check for a prostate-specific antigen in your body. A test called prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is carried out. The doctor will require a sample of your blood, which can be obtained from your arm.

PSA is a substance that is produced by the prostate but only in small amounts. Under normal circumstances, a man will have a small amount of this substance in his blood. In cases where there is an increased level of PSA in the bloodstream, the doctor will be able to detect the probability of prostate cancer. More tests can also be done after having an increased PSA level.

2. The Prostate Tissue

The doctor will only want to specifically check for cancer cells, once the other cells have indicated the presence of prostate cancer. It is difficult to obtain these cells unless there has been a massive or steady development of the infection. Your doctor will insert a very thin needle into your prostate to obtain samples of prostate tissues, which will be examined in the laboratory.

3. Growth of the Cancer Cells

Depending on different factors such as the health of the patient and related side effects, your doctor can decide to check for the presence of cells in the prostate. The prostate gland is located close to your rectum.

The doctor will use a lubricated and gloved finger to feel for any growth of cells. The finger is inserted into the rectum up to the prostate for the doctor to determine if there are cells in the prostate gland. Although the procedure is somewhat uncomfortable, the process is quite simple, which can yield very important results.

4. Health of Other Organs

After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s possible that the condition can spread to other organs in the body such as the liver, bones, or lungs. Doctors carry out tests to check for any other cell abnormalities to rule out the spread of cancer.

The Importance of Prostate Screenings

An early detection and diagnosis of any condition are extremely important for associated treatment plans. An early detection can also prevent your symptoms from worsening. When talking about a form of cancer, these two elements are crucial in preventing complications. Finding abnormalities in the prostate cells will help reduce the likelihood of tumors as a result of the abnormal cellular mutations.

It is recommended that you have a prostate cancer screening at least by the of age 50, but not generally required in healthy men around this age. This recommendation is primarily due to the fact that as men age, they become more susceptible to develop prostate cancer. Depending on personal risk factors and genetic disposition, you may consider having a screening even earlier than 50. Screening for prostate has different positive and negative aspects for each individual, and such screening methods should be discussed with your doctor to determine treatment efficacy.

While screening for prostate cancer is extremely important, there are a few risk factors that can explain the need for such screening. Understanding these factors will help you identify the potential growth of cancer in your prostate. For example, it is well-known that as men age, the chances of developing prostate cancer increases. Conversely, a lesser known risk factor, is that black men have a greater risk of developing prostate cancer than all other races. The progression and development of prostate cancer in black men is known to occur at an accelerated and more deadly rate.

Genetics can also play a major role in the development of prostate cancer. The same with other diseases and conditions, individuals who are predisposed to develop prostate cancer often have a family history of the condition. There is a known link between the existence of breast cancer in a family, and the occurrences of prostate cancer in siblings or their offspring.

The Bottom Line

Scientific reports show that the different tests completed by the doctors aim to identify factors that are important in the detection and treatment of prostate cancer. It is better to consult your doctor on necessary tests for your treatment.

In the interest of self-care, you should be aware that a positive prostate diagnosis does not have to be the end of your life. It is completely natural to feel a wide range of emotions upon learning of a prostate cancer diagnosis. To combat these feelings, you should practice a few self-help techniques that can improve your mood and outlook about the condition. Most importantly, take this opportunity to learn as much as you can about the disease. The more you understand, the less you will fear. Therefore, ask your doctor everything you need to know, and they'll also be able to refer you to other sources for more information.

Those of us lucky enough to have family in close proximity, should take advantage of it. Friends and family can offer a type of empathy not often seen in strangers, or even medical professionals. They understand you on a more personal level, and can be there for you when you need them most. You may also feel more comfortable divulging information to them.

Another useful technique in coping with prostate cancer, is by joining support groups or clinics. Connect with individuals who have also gone through the same diagnosis. Your family will be there for you when you need them most, but identifying and connecting with a person who has gone through an identical situation, can offer a perspective on your own condition. Lastly, take care of yourself. Enjoy a healthy diet, reach out to friends and family, and continue showing affection for your spouse or loved one. While prostate cancer can inhibit sexual activity, there are other ways to show someone that you care.