Diagnosing Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the second largest of all cancer related deaths in males; the only cancer that causes more deaths annually is lung cancer.
To stand a chance of combating prostate cancer it is important to have an early diagnoses, this way the medical professionals have a better chance of containing the condition and stopping the cancerous cells spreading to other parts of the body while also working to eradicate the illness altogether.
Before a testing or a diagnosis takes place a person needs to see there is a problem and seek medical advice, this may initially come in the form of pains while urinating, having difficulty passing urine, passing blood in the urine, urinating more frequently or having difficulty gaining and maintaining a full erection.
Once a person has seen there is a problem and looked for more medical help, the medical professionals will have to perform tests to find out if the problem is prostate cancer or another condition, these test can be carried out in a number of ways.
Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)
The prostate is located at the point where the urethra leaves the bladder, and it also sits against the outer wall of the rectum about 5 centimeters inside the anus.
Because of the location of the prostate a good examination can be made through the rectum, this is done by a medical professional who will use a well lubricated glove to insert a digit (otherwise known as a finger), into the anus and feel the inner wall of the rectum, by doing this they can actually feel the rear of the prostate located on the other side. Although it is only the rear of the prostate that can be checked it has been reported that 85% of all prostate cancers originate from this part of the prostate.
If the medical professional feels any unusual lumps or bumps it means they may require the person to have further tests.
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)
The prostate specific antigen test is a simple blood test, which is taken and tested for levels of the prostate specific antigen enzyme. By finding out the levels of PSA the medical professionals can see what the risk of cancer is. Below is a list of PSA levels and risks associated
PSA levels of 4 nanograms or less per milliliter is healthy
PSA levels above 4 nanograms per milliliter is a risk of prostate cancer
PSA levels above 10 nanograms per milliliter extremely high risk of prostate cancer
There are flaws with this test though because as a man grows older the levels of prostate specific antigens increase naturally, which is taken into account by the medical professionals, also a large proportion of men with high PSA levels do not have prostate cancer and likewise a proportion of men with prostate cancer have low PSA levels.
Confirming the diagnosis
If the medical professionals believe there is a chance of cancer they will request that you have a biopsy where a small tissue sample from the prostate is taken. To take a biopsy of the prostate the medical professional will put a tiny needle gun in the anus and press it against the wall of the rectum where a hollow needle will pass through the wall of the rectum into the prostate and take a sample. This procedure is not very painful and is routinely done on an outpatient basis.
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