Questions to Ask Your Urologist: Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men. In fact, 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
But, no matter how common it is, we understand that a condition like prostate cancer can leave you with more questions than answers. As always, we’re here to be your go-to resource for all things related to your urinary tract.
Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer or you’re trying to prevent the disease, keep reading for our top six questions to ask your urologist about prostate cancer.
6 Questions to Ask Your Urologist About Prostate Cancer
1. What is prostate cancer?
The prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland residing beneath the bladder, which produces ejaculatory fluid that is essential for reproduction. When prostate cells become damaged and begin to divide uncontrollably, prostate cancer occurs.
Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas, which means the condition developed from the gland cells. Other types of cancer that can start in the prostate include small cell carcinomas, neuroendocrine tumors, transitional cell carcinomas, and sarcomas. However, these types of prostate cancer are much rarer.
2. Am I at risk of developing prostate cancer?
The exact cause of prostate cancer can be difficult to determine. However, several factors may affect your chances of developing prostate cancer, including age, race, and family history.
- Age: Your risk of developing prostate cancer increases as you age. Approximately 6 in 10 cases of prostate cancer are found in men 65 and older.
- Race: Studies show that Asian American and Latino men have the lowest chances of developing prostate cancer. Meanwhile, African American men are 79% more likely to develop the condition compared to other races and ethnicities.
- Family history: Your genes may play a role in whether or not you are at risk of developing prostate cancer. If you have a family history of prostate cancer, especially a direct relative such as a father or brother, your risk is higher.
3. How can I prevent prostate cancer?
Keeping your overall health in check is the key to preventing prostate cancer, as well as many other diseases. You may not be able to control certain risk factors, like age, race, and family history, but you can still make healthy choices in your life to prevent prostate cancer.
It is important to get annual checkups with a urologist to ensure you’re being proactive and treating any other health-related problems you may have. Eating well, exercising often, limiting smoking and alcohol consumption, and reducing stress levels can also help.
Proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are crucial when it comes to preventing prostate cancer. To learn more about achieving and maintaining optimal urology health, download our free Nutrition and Lifestyle Guide.
4. When should I get tested for prostate cancer?
As is the case with any disease, early detection of prostate cancer can be crucial to ensure a successful treatment outcome. However, prostate cancer can be difficult to detect in the early stages because it often lacks symptoms. To catch the disease as early as possible, it is important to participate in regular health screenings with your urologist.
The first step in the screening process for prostate cancer is getting a prostate exam. During this exam, your doctor will check for any abnormalities, such as an enlarged or inflamed prostate. The next step to screening for prostate cancer is performing a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test. If high PSA levels are detected in your blood, this may indicate that you have prostate cancer.
5. What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
During the early stages of prostate cancer, you may have no signs or symptoms at all. For men over 40, cancer screenings and annual checkups with your urologist are extremely important to catch prostate cancer as early as possible.
In more advanced cases, some common symptoms include:
- Difficulty urinating or a complete inability to urinate
- Pain or burning sensation while urinating
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Abdominal, pelvic, hip, or back pain
- Loss of appetite and weight
6. What are my treatment options?
Prostate cancer is a slow-growing disease that’s typically curable when discovered in the early stages, and treatable when it’s more advanced. Treating your prostate cancer will be unique to you and your overall health, as well as the stage of your cancer prognosis. Here are five treatment options to consider as you and your doctor begin choosing one that is best for you.
- Active surveillance: Because prostate cancer often grows very slowly, active surveillance involves observing the cancer without taking immediate action. If your condition worsens, your urologist will move forward with other treatment options.
- Radiation therapy: During this treatment, high levels of radiation are targeted at your prostate gland to burn and kill the cancerous cells. External radiation uses a machine outside the body to produce radiation, while internal radiation places radioactive implants directly into the tumor.
- Surgery: A surgical procedure treats your cancer by removing the prostate gland altogether. During surgery, your doctor will also check the surrounding lymph nodes close to your prostate to ensure the disease hasn’t spread.
- Hormone therapy: This type of therapy works by decreasing the amount of testosterone that your body produces, which causes the cancer cells to die or grow more slowly.
- Chemotherapy: This treatment works by using chemicals to kill or halt the growth of cancer cells. During chemotherapy, drugs are either injected directly into the veins or taken orally.
Related: 6 Ways to Treat Prostate Cancer
Treating Prostate Cancer at USOC
If you’ve been wondering what questions to ask your urologist about prostate cancer, we hope this blog can serve as a helpful resource as you begin to research the condition. At Urology Specialists of the Carolinas, we’re here to help every step of the way as you deal with preventing, managing, and treating prostate cancer.
If you have additional questions about prostate cancer, or if you would like to further discuss ways to prevent or treat the disease, schedule an appointment at your nearest USOC location. And if your prostate cancer was detected late or has returned after receiving treatment, we can provide high-quality treatment and care through our Advanced Prostate Cancer Clinic.
In the meantime, download our Living With Prostate Cancer Guide to learn even more about this condition — and, more importantly, how to live with it. Click the button below to access your free copy!