Symptoms and risk factors of prostate cancer
Risk factors of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer among men in Singapore. Although scientists have not established a definitive cause for the cancer, some groups of men are at higher risk of developing it: Older men above 50 years old, men who are obese or take a higher fat diet, and men with relatives that have had prostate cancer. In fact, the risk of developing prostate cancer seems to grow sharply with age, especially after 50 years of age, according to the Singapore Cancer Registry’s study of cancer cases in the country between 1968 and 2018. From 2014 to 2018, almost half of all diagnosed prostate cancer cases were in men aged 70 years old and above.
Symptoms of prostate cancer
Majority of men do not have symptoms even when they have prostate cancer. For some men who have prostate cancer, they may experience these symptoms:
- Having the need to urinate all the time, especially at night
- Feeling that they are bursting with urine, but managing only a trickle when they go
- Suffering pain or a burning sensation when they urinate
- Seeing blood in their urine
Some of these symptoms could be due to other medical problems, such as urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and benign prostate hyperplasia, which is an enlarged but non-cancerous prostate. Men who have any of these symptoms should also go to a doctor to determine the cause.
The importance of check-ups
Unfortunately, many men with prostate cancer have no symptoms. Singapore also does not conduct population-based screening for prostate cancer. As such, men who are above 50 years old, especially those who have a family history of prostate cancer, should schedule their own check-up for the cancer. The process can be as simple as taking a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test to determine if there are any irregularities that require further tests.
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Such checks can also enable doctors to detect prostate cancer earlier. In the Singapore Cancer Registry study, an alarming 31.5 per cent of patients who were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2014 to 2018 were in Stage 4 of the disease, which means that the cancer had spread beyond the prostate to other parts of the body. With earlier detection, prostate cancer can be treated much more easily, returning patients sooner to a clean bill of health.
This article has been fact-checked by Dr Chong Kian Tai, consultant urologist of Surgi-TEN Specialists at Farrer Park Hospital.