A cancer diagnosis can be appalling due to a lot of fear connected with it. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Most men are unaware of this cancer and tend to delay treatment which leads to serious consequences in later stages of life. It is generally seen in men above the age of 50. The prostate is a small gland found in a man’s lower abdomen. When an abnormal, malignant growth of cells that is called a tumor form in the prostate, it is called prostate cancer.
The risk for prostate cancer increases with age and the symptoms may not appear until an advanced stage. The symptoms of this cancer also differ amongst individuals and could be associated with Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH) and non-cancer conditions. Hence, it must be evaluated further. The common symptoms of prostate cancer include blood in urine or semen, sudden or frequent need to urinate, difficulty in Urination, loss of weight, erectile dysfunction, etc. Prostate cancers usually develop very slowly and might not display symptoms for some time. The treatment depends on the aggressiveness and progression of cancer.
Like other malignancies, prostate cancer is also a disease of the genome. A vast majority of prostate cancer cases are sporadic at a typical age of onset. These may appear due to a variety of factors like Environment, Lifestyle, etc. However, a small fraction of these cancers are due to hereditary predisposition. Hereditary cancers occur due to inherited gene mutations and can be passed on through generations.
Generally, men develop prostate cancer as they get older. Prevention isn’t possible but taking these steps may help minimize risk and to detect disease early:
- Get regular prostate screenings
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a nutritious diet
- Quit smoking
Getting the right screening test at the right time is one of the best things a man can do for his health. Precise screening helps in the detection of cancer at an early stage and provides specialized medical management and risk prevention measures. The screening tests for prostate cancer include Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA), and Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). The prostate-Specific Antigen test is one of the most common screening methods for PC. It measures the levels of PSA in the blood.
Genetic screening also plays an important role in the detection of prostate cancer early. Germline (hereditary) genetic testing is becoming an integral part of treatment, management, and risk assessment. Germline genetic alterations have been observed in patients with prostate cancer, especially in those with metastatic disease. A genetic counselor helps in assessing the possibility of a hereditary cancer predisposition. The pre-test genetic counseling session involves personal and family history of cancer, genetic testing, potential types of results, the potential risk to other cancers, medical management, and implications on family members.
Who should opt for genetic counseling and Hereditary germline genetic testing:
- Early-onset of Prostate cancer
- Personal history of Prostate cancer with Gleason Score greater than 7
- Personal history of metastatic prostate cancer.
- Family history
Early detection and treatment are vital to a better outcome. If you have any of the symptoms of prostate cancer, schedule an appointment for a consultation with your doctor immediately for educational genetic counseling to evaluate personal or family history of cancers and to inform the risks associated with inherited cancers.
Dr. Mithua Ghosh, Director & HOD – Molecular and Clinical Genomics, HCG Cancer Hospital Bengaluru