Dr Ekow Mensah Ackaah-Gyasi, Senior House Officer, Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of the Effia-Nkwanta Regional Hospital (ENRH), has warned that prostate cancer can spread outside the prostate, leading to symptoms that can be different from the common urinary symptoms.
He said prostate cancer can spread to any part of the body which is often called advanced prostate cancer, meaning that the cancer that began in the prostate gland has now spread to another part of the body.
“In theory, prostate cancer cells can spread anywhere in the body. In practice, though, prostate cancer metastasis occurs most often in the lymph nodes and the bones. This occurs when cells break away from the tumor in the prostate”, he explained.
This, he said, could lead to bone pain, extreme fatigue, a general feeling of being unwell and unexplained weight loss while some people may experience symptoms specific to the area where the cancer has spread.
Dr Ackaah-Gyasi who spoke in an interview explained that cancer cells can stop lymph fluid from draining away which might lead to swelling in the legs due to fluid build-up in that area and this swelling is called lymphoedema.
He indicated that such swelling can be spotted in various ways, from tighter clothes, shoes and jewellery to heavier, tighter and stiffer legs which needs to be watched out for.
“Prostate cancer is not just limited to the localised area or to the lymph nodes. It can also spread to the bones, bowels, liver and lungs. But remember that swelling in the legs doesn’t necessarily mean prostate cancer since there are several other health conditions that may cause leg swelling and pain”, he stressed.
He announced that currently, most cases of prostate cancer were identified by screening in asymptomatic men with digital rectal examination (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) evaluation being the two components used in prostate cancer screening.
He advised that persons above the age of 40 should make it a routine to have a yearly check of their prostate to allow for early detection since the disease was an insidious one which needs to be screened to be diagnosed and managed promptly.
Dr Ackaah-Gyasi defined prostate cancer as the cancer that occurs in the prostate, which is a small walnut-shaped gland in males that helps make semen.
He enlightened that usually cancer starts when cells in the body start growing abnormally hence, prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow out of control.
However, he said there was no clear answer to what causes prostate cancer as it begins when cells in the prostate develop changes in their DNA whereas the accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor that can grow to invade nearby tissue.
He noted that prostate cancer usually causes urinary symptoms, which include needing to pee more frequently, often during the night, difficulty in starting to pee, straining while peeing or a weak flow.
He said additionally, one may also experience symptoms like difficulty in ejaculating, feeling bladder pressure and blood in urine or in semen and advised men to contact their doctor in case they were worried about any of the symptoms that indicate cancer.
According to him, all men are at risk of prostate cancer however, age was the most common risk factor and that the older the man is, the greater his chance of contracting the disease.
Meanwhile, he said unhealthy weight, unhealthy lifestyle habits such as drinking and smoking along with poor food choices may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer that occurs in men. Worldwide, an estimated 1.4 million people were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2020, making it the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world.
Although 60% of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in people aged 65 or older, younger men can also develop this disease.
Those who have a family history of prostate cancer or people who are obese have a higher risk of prostate cancer compared to people who have none of these risk factors.