Cancer isn't something any of us want.  Those at highest risk for prostate cancer are men from 40 to 75 years of age.  That according to CentraCare Radiation Oncologist Dr. Nicholas Olson.  He describes prostate cancer as an unregulated division of prostate cancer cells.  Olson says any healthy cell divides normally but cancer cells (for whatever reason) have damage to their DNA which results in unregulated division.  He explains these cells continue to divide and are unregulated by the immune system.

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Dr. Olson says the majority of people that are diagnosed with prostate cancer are asymptomatic at the time of their diagnosis.  He says these patients are often diagnosed when they have an elevated PSA, which is a protein that is secreted into the blood by healthy prostate cells.  Dr. Olson indicates it is possible patients can show symptoms of prostate cancer and those symptoms include frequent urination, problems controlling urination, and problems starting urination.  These symptoms aren't exclusive to prostate cancer.  Prostate cancer can also be identified by physical exams.  The exam is called a digital rectal exam.  Dr. Olson says occasionally a lump and/or mast can be identified during this exam.  He says occasionally the prostate can become larger due to prostate cancer but that doesn't have to be the case.

Among the risk factors for prostate cancer age is the biggest factor.  Dr. Olson says 11% of males will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lifetime.  He explains it is rare for someone to be diagnosed before 40 years old.  Olson indicates a man's risk increases at age 40 and peaks between 65 and 75.  He says after that, risk does decline but doesn't go to zero.  Prostate cancer does run in families so genetics can play a role.

Image Credit: Google Maps
Image Credit: Google Maps

Dr. Olson explains prostate cancer, if caught early, is very unlikely to cause death.  He says if prostate cancer is found to have spread at diagnosis these individuals will likely die of prostate cancer.  Olson says with that being said most of these people will live for many years with prostate cancer.

Treatment options for prostate cancer if it has spread include some type of systemic therapy which means the treatment goes throughout the body.  Dr. Olson says this includes some anti-testosterone therapy and chemotherapy.  Surgery can also be an option.  Dr. Olson says in some cases they can remove the prostate.

If you'd like to listen to my 4-part conversation with Dr. Olson, it is available below.






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