Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men aged over 50. A man’s lifetime risk of prostate cancer is 1 in 6. Prostate cancer is also the 2nd leading cause of cancer in men, after lung cancer. It is responsible for 80, 000 deaths annually in Europe. Even if the mortality rate is decreasing, survival rate after five years amounts 83.4%*, the incidence rate has increased these last years, especially because of global ageing.

What is prostate cancer?

The prostate, masculine genital gland, takes part, along with the seminal glands, in the seminal liquid production which, with the spermatozoon, forms the sperm.

Prostate cancer is an abnormal cells proliferation. Male hormones, and especially testosterone, favour the development of prostate cancer through the multiplication of these cells.

Symptoms and stages

Prostate cancer evolution is slow. Due to the absence of symptoms, excepting urinary discomfort that could be attributed to age, the disease can be ignored for many years by the patient.

However, certain symptoms can lead to the diagnosis of prostate cancer:

Urinary symptoms:

  • Trouble holding urination
  • Decreased force in the stream of urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Urination impossibility

At a later stage, other symptoms may appear:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Bones pain
  • Frequent fractures

Prostate cancer has different stages of evolution and more aggressive forms can appear. The stage of the disease depends on the size of the tumour and is determinant in the choice of treatment options. Size, presence of the tumour on lymph node and presence of metastasis in other body parts are criteria to evaluate the stage of the pathology.

Diagnosis and screening

An early diagnosis guarantees the best chances of survival for the patient. Certain medical tests enable to detect an eventual prostate cancer:

  • Rectal examination
  • PSA screening. This technic allows the detection of early stage tumours and, consequently, an earlier treatment. However, its utilisation is controversial due to risks of over-diagnostic and over-treatment.
  • Trans-rectal ultrasound
  • Biopsy

Prostate cancer treatments have largely improved these last ten years, especially through individualized approaches. Patient-tailored approaches s  within a multidisciplinary setting are becoming more and more essential to the successful management of  cancers, but in many cases there are numerous possible that could be implemented – both at different stages of disease and for different patient types : 

  • Surgery,
  • Radiotherapy,
  • HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) : this technique uses heat to eliminate the tumour,
  • Curie therapy: a radiotherapy technique using radioactive components to destroy the cancerous cells,
  • Hormonotherapy: GnRh agonists interferes with the production of male hormones and can be used to slow down the disease progression by decreasing the level of testosterone,
  • Chemotherapy

* Sources : Eurocare 5 / INCA

Updated on 07 February 2014