Why men must care about staging prostate cancer

By Jesus Molina

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in men and the second most common type of cancer in that gender.

According to the American Cancer Society, almost 3 million men in the U.S. have survived the disease and are alive. They estimate about 26,000 deaths because of prostate cancer and 180,000 new cases in 2016. ACS studies say that 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with this illness in their lifetime and one fatal case will be reported in every 39.

Why is staging so important?

Every cancer has its method to be treated, depending on the seriousness of the disease. Staging consists of knowing how much cancer is currently in the patient’s body and specifically where it is located. Regarding prostate cancer, staging allows doctors to know how big the tumor is and if the cancer has spread, to know which parts of the body are in danger of receiving it.

Staging is necessary mainly for three reasons: it helps doctors to know which is the best treatment for the disease, it gives information related to the chance of recovery of the patient and also it can assist the person in finding new clinical trials.

The mechanism for staging prostate cancer is based on five fundamental pieces of information: the extension of the tumor, if the cancer has either reached lymph nodes or has metastasized to other parts of the body, the Prostate-specific Antigen levels (PSA) and the Gleason score.

There are two ways of collecting this information and include a clinical method and a pathological method. The first one is based on the results of physical examination, lab tests, and prostate biopsy. The second one relies on the information above and the addition of the results brought by the surgery. The pathological method is more accurate on giving the doctor a more specific information regarding the location and extension of the tumor.

Red flags and warnings

Problems while urinating, especially at night, are typical in this type of cancer. Also, it is included in the characteristics of the disease the inability to start the urination, weak urine stream or burning sensation.

Prostate cancer is dangerous because in its starting stages there are no apparent symptoms. That’s why men have to pay a lot of attention to any warning that the body could be revealing, like a pain in the hips or the lower back and even erectile dysfunction.

Because this disease is so common in men, it’s recommended that every male older than 40 years old should make an annual medical revision to check out the possibility of having the illness.

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