Cancer should come with a skip button, but sadly it doesn’t. Though there is less of what we can do to cure cancer as of now, we can certainly treat and prevent it. With the rise of cancer incidences, the need for discourse on this subject is more urgent than ever.
Our society, for long, has hesitated in communicating around the aspects of health care for men. However, men’s health is as important as that of women and children. Consider prostate cancer – it is the second leading cancer among men in India. Despite such high numbers, there is a wide gap in the awareness of prostate cancer.
To bridge this gap, we spoke with Dr Peush Bajpai, Consultant, Medical Oncology Sciences at Manipal Hospitals Dwarka. Here is our dialogue with him, on the issue of prostate cancer-
Common Questions about Prostate Cancer
Ques 1. Prostate Cancer is the second most common cancer among men in Delhi. What are the significant causes and lifestyle trends that attribute to these high incidences?
Ans. Prostate Cancer is being realised as a very common cancer. We are receiving several patients diagnosed with this disease pattern. The one major probable cause for these high numbers is that awareness on this issue is spreading significantly. So, people are going for blood tests. These tests are bringing up more cases in the hospital facility. However, to say that there are no changes in the lifestyle trends would incorrect.
There are some alterations in trends because of the rapid urbanisation in our country. There is an adoption of the western lifestyle. Trends like smoking among youngsters have increased, leading to higher risk factors. So, these are probably contributing to the causes that lead to the rise in all sorts of cancers. Prostate cancer is just one part of it.
I would also say that the major obesity-linked phenomena, which is called the metabolic syndrome, is somewhere related to prostate cancer. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of obesity, smoking, hyperlipidemia and increased face size. Besides this, poor exercise habits are also contributing to more cases of prostate cancer.
Ques 2. Experts in the field believe that the cases of prostate cancer will be doubled by the year 2020. What can the masses do on their end to prevent it?
Ans. The cause, as I mentioned just now, is a sedentary lifestyle. To prevent prostate cancer, one must adopt a healthy lifestyle. In one line, I would like to sum up that if we change our lifestyles back to our socio-cultural one, we can prevent prostate cancer.
We should replace our present food habits with the ones we Indians have always had. For instance, a diet rich in fibre and fruits, which was our basic diet. If we go back to that and of course if we incorporate physical exercise (45 min to an hour daily), we may be able to prevent prostate cancer. Also, for a completely healthy way of living, consumption of tobacco should be stopped. One must also monitor their weight and blood pressure. All of this would contribute to a dip in the curve of the rising prostate cancer, which is what we are observing currently.
Ques 3. It is believed that prostate cancer usually grows very slowly and the symptoms are not highly recognisable by patients. As a result patients turn to doctors with this disease at a very advanced stage. Concerning patient education, what would you like to say about the indications of prostate cancer?
Ans. It is rightly pointed out in the question that the symptoms of prostate cancer are presented when the disease is in an advanced stage. This disease is most common in the peripheral zone of the prostate and not the inner zone. If it were in the inner zone of the prostate it would have caused the patient to be more symptomatic in the early stages.
I would recommend that if a man (above the age of 50- 55 years) is experiencing urination issues, such as a poor stream of urine, increased frequency of urination, painful urination, blood in urine he should consult a doctor. And then, the diagnosis can be looked into from there.
I would also add that if a man experiences a new onset of lower back pain after the age of 55 years, then he should not take it lightly. Such back pain should be reported to the physician or the doctor. Prostate cancer can be one of the rare aspects of diagnosis, which the physician may keep in mind while inspecting.
Ques 4. Have you come across any strange or atypical cases of prostate cancer management during your practice?
Ans. Sometimes there are rare manifestations of prostate cancer. We have come across some cases in which there was a dip in the blood count. In such incidents, patients do not present with much of the other symptoms. It is noted that occasionally patients are just anaemic, their platelets and white blood cells are on the lower side. Eventually, if and when we do a bone marrow test, we have found the involvement of cancerous prostate cells in the bone marrow. So this is one rare scenario we have come across.
In other cases, it can present with very high calcium levels. These high levels eventually indicate that the bones are involved too. We have rarely seen patients presenting with neuropathies. There are other manifestations also.
Ques 5. Is there a link between a man’s sexual activity and risk of prostate cancer?
Ans. There has been a hypothesis saying that the more sexually active a man is, the less are his chances for prostate cancer. But there is no definitive association established till date.
Nonetheless, I would still say that carrying out a healthy lifestyle would help decrease the risks of prostate cancer.
Ques 6. Can you please elaborate on the details of Prostate-specific Antigen Test?
Ans. Prostate-specific Antigen Test is a blood test. It is usually recommended to diagnose prostate cancer, specifically, once the clinical suspicion is there. Earlier it was being used as a screening test. If one suspects a possibility of prostate cancer, this test is really useful in identifying such patients.
There are certain points which one should keep in mind while planning for a PSA test. One should not consider it as a pure screening test.
Sometimes, there are advertisements or advertorials in newspapers offering free PSA tests, one should not fall into these scams. They should consult their physician or doctor before getting this test done. The results of this test have a lot of implications.
A positive PSA test does not always mean that one would have prostate cancer, it could be an infection. Likewise, a negative test does not mean that there is no prostate cancer, there could be a rare chance of cancer still being there.
So please do this test only after consulting your physician. You may be in for a surprise otherwise.
For a priority appointment or more information, contact us at +91 8010994994 or book an appointment with Dr. Peush Bajpai here –
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This write-up was contributed to Credihealth by Dr. Peush Bajpai.
About The Doctor
Dr Peush Bajpai is one of the finest medical oncologists. He is a senior consultant – medical oncology at Manipal Hospital, Dwarka. He has an experience of 12 years in this field. Earlier he was working as a senior consultant – medical oncology at Max Hospital and BLK Super Speciality Hospital.