Prostate Cancer and What You Need to Know

There’s something you should know

Prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 1 man in 7, according to the American Cancer Society. Other than skin cancer, it’s the most common cancer in American men.

Terms you should familiarize with

Prostate: a small, walnut-shaped gland that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm

PSA: prostate-specific antigen, a substance produced by the prostate gland

Most men have PSA levels under 4. Men who have a prostate gland that feels normal on examination and a PSA less than four have a 15% chance of having prostate cancer. Those with a PSA between four and 10 have a 25% chance of having prostate cancer and if the PSA is higher than 10, the risk increases and can be as high as 67%.

Recurrence: the cancer has not been cured by treatment; prostate cancer cells have become evident again

PET / CT Scan: an advanced nuclear imaging technique combines positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) into one machine. A PET/CT scan reveals information about both the structure and function of cells and tissues in the body during a single imaging session.

MRI: a 3T MRI is a non-invasive scan that shows detailed images of soft tissues in the body using radio waves and strong magnets. An MRI can give a very clear picture of the prostate and show if cancer has spread outside the prostate into the seminal vesicles or other nearby structures. This in conjunction with a post processing software provides your doctor with the best possible information to move forward with diagnosis and treatment.

How prostate cancer works

Prostate cancer begins with abnormal cells. Mutations in the abnormal cells’ DNA cause the cells to grow and divide more quickly than normal cells do. Usually, prostate cancer grows slowly and is confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm and requires only minimal treatment. However, the accumulating abnormal cells may form a tumor that can invade nearby tissue, or invade other parts of the body.

After the initial diagnosis of prostate cancer, patients undergo treatments like surgery or radiation, which usually cause PSA levels to decrease. If PSA levels begin to rise at any time after treatment, a local recurrence (such as the muscles that help control urination, the rectum, or the wall of the pelvis) or distant recurrence (in bones or other organs) may be occurring, which requires additional testing.

At Cheyenne Radiology, PET and CT scans are used to detect prostate cancer recurrence. The scan can detect the location and extent of cancer that has recurred. During a scan, the patient is injected with a glucose solution that contains a very small amount of radioactive material. This substance is absorbed by the organs and tissues, allowing the PET/CT scanner to “see” damaged or cancerous cells. It’s a painless procedure and, because it combines information about the body’s anatomy and metabolic function, a PET/CT scan provides a more detailed and accurate picture of cancerous tissues than either test alone.

Cheyenne Radiology also offers MRI scans, which is especially useful for the prostate, due to greater soft tissue contrast than a CT scan. With MRI, we may distinguish between normal and diseased tissue to precisely pinpoint cancerous cells within the body. During an MRI, the patient rests on a table and slides into a large tunnel-shaped scanner. Some exams require a contrast dye to be injected into a vein before the procedure. This helps certain areas show up better on the images. The procedure is painless and typically takes 30-60 minutes. Unlike X-rays and CT scans, an MRI does not use radiation.

Here’s what you can do

Know the symptoms:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night; sometimes urgently
  • Difficulty starting or holding back urination
  • Weak, dribbling, or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • A decrease in the amount of fluid ejaculated
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or thighs

If you are age 50 and over: consider a yearly rectal examination and PSA test

Get screened: age 40 is a reasonable time to start screening for those at highest risk (genetic predispositions or strong family histories of prostate cancer at a young age), and 40 – 50 for those at an average risk

Live your healthiest life: eat well, exercise, relax and enjoy life