Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Prostate Cancer: A Leading Cancer in Males Across Canada

Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician, practices at Brentwood Medical Clinic, a collaborative family practice and walk-in clinic located at Brentwood Town Centre in Burnaby. There, Dr. Ghahary sees patients of all ages – from newborns to elderly, ranging from minor health ailments to more complicated and chronic conditions such as kidney disease and various types of cancer.

One of the leading cancers for male patients across Canada is prostate cancer – the formation of a malignant tumour in the cells of the prostate. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located just beneath the bladder and surrounding the urethra, which carries urine from the bladder. Prostate cancer typically grows slowly, and if caught early enough can usually be managed quite successfully or even removed completely. On average, an estimated 59 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each day, with over 21,000 men in Canada being diagnosed this year alone.

Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer to watch out for include changes in bladder habits (i.e. frequent urination, the urgency or inability or urinate, a weak or interrupted urine stream, and burning or pain during urination in addition to blood in the urine.) Late symptoms can also include bone pain, weight loss, anemia, fatigue, and complete loss of bladder control.

In order to diagnose prostate cancer your physician may examine you in order to check for any hard bumps that may have the possibility of being cancerous. In addition, patients will also be referred for diagnostic testing. A common screening test to check for prostate cancer is a PSA test, otherwise known as a Prostate-Specific Antigen test. This test is performed by drawing blood and checking your PSA levels. Typically, most men who are healthy will have a PSA level under 4ng/ml. However, with an increased PSA level the risk of having prostate cancer also increases significantly. With a PSA level over 10, that risk grows by 50%. Another common test used to diagnose prostate cancer is a core needle biopsy. This is usually done depending on the patient’s symptoms and results of other tests, such as the PSA blood test. It is important to note that even with a PSA level below 4, that does not necessarily mean you are 100% cancer-free, as 15% of male patients are found to have prostate cancer after a biopsy has been performed. Treatment for prostate cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation – all of which are performed as either standalone treatment or in combination.

There are many prostate cancer support services in and around Vancouver, including the Prostate Cancer Foundation of BC, located in Surrey. Their goal is to provide knowledge and help to individuals diagnosed with prostate cancer, in addition to raising funds in support of further research and treatment options. In order to raise funds and bring awareness to the fight against prostate cancer, they hold an annual fundraiser every summer – the Father’s Day Walk/Run for Prostate Cancer. This run takes place across various cities in British Columbia including Metro Vancouver, Chilliwack, Kamloops and Kelowna.

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