If there is any suspicion, due to symptoms or high PSA levels, a rectal examination will be performed along with a new serum PSA analysis. If the rectal exam is positive (if a nodule or hardening of the prostrate is detected) a biopsy will be carried out. If the rectal examination is negative, the PSA levels will be assessed, to determine whether to carry out a biopsy or not. The PSA is used as a filter for the general population, in order to enable early diagnosis of prostate cancer.
It is a good tumour marker, because it increases when the prostatic glands break down due to tumour growth. As it is also present in normal prostates and it also increases in the benign growth of the prostate, it must always be interpreted in each patient's individual context. An increase in PSA is not a synonym for prostate cancer, and a rectal examination and ultrasound scan should always be carried out. The final diagnosis is given only by a biopsy.
It is often asymptomatic and the first warning sign is high PSA levels. Patients may also present tiredness, loss of appetite and weight loss. Local alterations are also frequent: urinary obstruction, urinary retention, presence of blood in the urine, urinary infections. In the case of spreading, bone pain is frequent.
How is affected by the condition?
The typical profile is a male between 50 and 70 years old, in whom benign prostate growth may coexist.
Diagnosis of prostate cancer is carried out using serum PSA, rectal examination and an ecodirected prostate biopsy.
When prostate cancer is localised and low-risk, it can be treated through extirpation and radiotherapy. In the case of spreading, treatment through radiotherapy and hormones will be assessed, in order to stop tumour growth. Occasionally, if the patient is elderly, the development of the cancer will be closely monitored before extirpation, as in some cases, it poses no short-term threat to their survival.
Rectal examination, determination of serum PSA, prostate biopsy.
Survival rates for prostate cancer depend on the state at the time of diagnosis; it is quite favourable in local states, less so in advanced states and worse once it has spread. Periodic prostate evaluation by primary care doctors is therefore indicated.
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