No Warning – No Symptoms
How is it possible to be feeling great one day and being diagnosed with prostate cancer the next? It can and does happen every single day. Not everyone that has a disease shows symptoms immediately. We preach this every day; the quickest way to know for certain is to go get checked.
What does screening involve?
Well, first it means making that doctors appointment. You must get tested to know 100% for sure what is going on in your body. Two of these tests are the digital rectal exam (DRE) and PSA, which is a blood test. Another is a transrectal ultrasound, also known as TRUS, which involves inserting a small ultrasound probe in the rectum. This sends out sound waves and the echoes bounce back off body structures to create an image of the landscape of the structure.
An MRI, magnetic resonance imaging, gives a more detailed image than an ultrasound. Sometimes you have to have an endorectal coil placed inside your rectum for the scan. You may be required to have a biopsy if you have an elevated prostate-specific antigen or an abnormal test. A biopsy is basically a sample of tissue for examination under a microscope. I’ve heard some say this is painful and others say, it’s a breeze. You be the judge. However, it is a sure way to see the results of what is going on in the body and plus a biopsy reveals many things.
Is your Gleason important?
Yes, it is. A score of six or less tells us whether the cancer might be growing slowly. A score of seven suggests that it could be an aggressive cancer and an eight is likely to spread more quickly. It is very important to know these things. It helps make the decision of what treatment is best for you. Of course, there are other things to consider such as your PSA blood level, what is found on your rectal exam, did you find cancer on both sides, and has cancer spread outside the prostate. Research tells us the average age to get checked could be around 50 if you are at average risk, age 45 if your high risk, and age 40 if you have a relative who got the disease at an early age. The sooner you know your number, the better.
Do you know your prostate cancer stage?
It’s better to have these screenings done early, don’t put it off. It could be time to get checked if you’re having a hard time controlling your bladder or erectile dysfunction. I know with my father he complained of back pain and thought it was work related. Having these symptoms doesn’t mean you have prostate cancer. Know that knowledge is power, and ignorance is no excuse. When my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer; I did my homework. Most of the time I didn’t understand what I was reading, but I felt empowered anyway. I had a list of questions to ask his doctors and I felt like I had control of what treatments they were prescribing for him.
Get your test done early
My message to all men would be don’t wait for symptoms; get tested as soon as possible. You want to beat the cancer and not let cancer beat you. We know with all the treatments of radiation and other therapies, it can be treatable. The thing to remember is catching it early. My father is 85 and I asked him if there was anything he would have done differently since being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He said no. He said he got diagnosed early and always had regular check-ups. He’s happy that he’s able to spend more time with his family and friends. Our time here is short, so used it wisely. The sooner you catch any cancer we know the better chances of treatment is more successful. Non-symptoms don’t guarantee being cancer free. All our bodies are different.
My father has always said that having two types of cancer in his life along with living with COPD has not taken over his life at all. He said he has chosen to live around his disease. Never give up what you loved to do in this world.
Have you made personal connections through your journey with prostate cancer?