Why should men be concerned about prostate cancer?
In Malaysia, prostate cancer is the third most common cancer among men. All men are at risk for prostate cancer; about 1 in 117 men will get prostate cancer during their lifetime. The Malaysia National Cancer Registry reported that it is most common among Chinese men, followed by Indian and Malay and the incidence is increasing from year to year. It is rare in men younger than 40, but the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after the age of 50. Around 60% of prostate cancers are diagnosed in people who are 65 or older.
Early prostate cancer is hard to detect as it is usually asymptomatic, for some men, there may not be any symptoms until the condition turns more severe, due to this reason it is known as a silent killer. Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas that develop from the prostate gland. This cancer is somewhat unusual compared to other types of cancer because it is slow-growing and is most of the time confined to the prostate gland. It may take up to 8 years to spread to other parts of the body or to your bones. Where it is most likely to spread, causing pain, weak bones, and fractures.
Thankfully, prostate cancer can be managed with appropriate treatment — and the success of treatment improves with early detection of the health condition.
What causes prostate cancer
It's not known exactly what causes prostate cancer, however, the following factors are identified to increase a person's risk of developing prostate cancer:
When should I see a doctor?
It’s time to see a doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms:
Weak urine stream
Difficulty with starting to urinate or pee
A sudden need to pee
Painful or a burning sensation while peeing
Feeling like your bladder isn’t empty after peeing
Blood in your urine or semen
Pain or discomfort in your pelvis, hips, or back that doesn’t go away
Problem with maintaining an erection
When these symptoms occur, see a GP or a men’s health doctor as soon as possible via the Doctor Anywhere app. Our medical experts will provide you with advice on possible screening and treatment options.
What can we do to reduce the risk of prostate cancer?
Even though there is no sure way to prevent prostate cancer, there are some things you can do that might lower your risk of getting it.
Maintaining an ideal, healthy body weight, staying active and exercising, and having a balanced diet might help lower your risk of being diagnosed. You can also consume food rich in lycopene, like tomatoes, which helps with reducing your risk.
Additionally, schedule regular health screening appointments, to ensure that you catch any possible health conditions early. You can also do a virtual consult with your doctor to share any health concerns or questions you may have. Get in touch with your doctor if you notice any changes to your genital or urinary health.
Are there any self-examinations that we should
do for early detection?
Self-examinations have the potential to cause injury because the prostate is an internal gland. Only a qualified, licensed medical expert can assess how the prostate feels to determine the overall health of your prostate accurately. This could be done through a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE), in which the doctor inserts a finger into the rectum while wearing gloves and lubricant to feel the prostate gland.
Prostate-specific antigen levels in your blood can also be checked in order to detect cancer early. “Luckily, we have a blood exam to screen for prostate cancer. It is called Prostate Specific Antigen, or PSA. Men 50 years old and above should have this done annually. If you’re at a higher risk for prostate cancer, such as having a relative with prostate cancer, you can start going for a PSA as early as 45 years of age.
How is prostate cancer treated?
Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is appropriate for your situation. Treatment for prostate cancer varies with the stage and grade of the prostate cancer. We also consider the age of the patient on diagnosis and medical condition. Prostate cancer can be treated surgically by removing the prostate, radiation, hormonal, and chemotherapy.
Luckily with advancements in the medical front, patients can now choose to have less invasive forms of treatment. Treatment of early prostate cancer is now safe and less complicated – the evolution of robotic-assisted surgery and technological advancements in radiotherapy often give good results with reduced side effects. In any case, the severity of the cancer is key to determining the type of treatment. This is why it is best to get routine health screenings to ensure your condition is detected early.
How to cope with prostate cancer
Prostate cancer impacts the daily lives of men, particularly their physical and emotional health, relationships, and social life. Men who are unable to speak openly about their emotions may find it challenging to cope with the impacts of prostate cancer in their daily lives and seek help.
Here are some support groups in Malaysia to help you and your loved ones find support, comfort, and assistance from members of society and survivors who understand and share your journey.
National Cancer Council (MAKNA)
National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM)
Friends and family are also a strong support system for cancer patient and their families. Just chatting about normal things and doing some everyday activities together might help.
Finally, men with prostate cancer may get depressed before or after treatment. Stress, anxiety, and depression can cause a variety of symptoms from feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things you usually enjoy and feeling very fearful. Many people with depression also feel anxious or worried. Doctor Anywhere has mental health experts available via virtual consult, so you can speak to them anytime from the comfort of your home to get the help and support you need.