According to the Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report 2019, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men in Singapore. It usually occurs in men over the age of 50 and the risk increases with age, making it critical for men to seek regular health checks as means of prevention.
To protect your health, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of prostate cancer and understand the various treatment alternatives and ways to reduce risks.
What is Prostate Cancer?
The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system responsible for producing seminal fluid that makes up the sperm. The prostate gland is a small walnut-sized gland located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that specifically affects the prostate gland.
Prostate cancer symptoms
The signs and symptoms of early prostate cancer may not be apparent. In fact, many men in Singapore do not experience any symptoms during the early stages of prostate cancer. When symptoms do occur, some of the more common ones include:
- Pain or difficulty passing urine and weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Increased frequency to urinate especially at night
- Blood in urine or semen
- Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection and painful ejaculation
- Persistent pain in the lower back, pelvis, hips or thighs
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you see a doctor as soon as possible for medical advice and help.
Treatment types for prostate cancer in Singapore
Survival for prostate cancer is generally good, particularly if you are diagnosed early. According to Cancer Research UK, 78% of patients will survive for over 10 years. There are now many treatment options available for prostate cancer and the sooner a patient seeks medical help, the better the outcome.
Your doctor will work together with you to develop the best treatment plans based on the severity of your condition, age, and symptoms. You may have a choice of treatments such as surgery or radiotherapy. Or your doctor might suggest monitoring your cancer instead of receiving treatment straight away. Generally, treatment in Singapore varies between the following options:
- active surveillance
- surgery to remove your prostate
- external radiotherapy and hormone therapy
- internal radiotherapy (brachytherapy) with external radiotherapy
Active surveillance is one option if the cancer is slow-growing. Your doctor may advise you to do regular prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests or prostate biopsies. Surgery such as a prostatectomy involves the removal of the entire prostate gland along with some surrounding tissue. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells and shrinks tumours before surgery can be performed.
Reducing your risk of developing prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is not clearly linked to any preventable causes and your risk of developing it depends on many things. These include age and ethnicity. However, staying healthy as you age or working to reverse your existing health problems can help to lower your risk of prostate cancer. Here are some lifestyle changes you can make to further reduce your chances of developing prostate cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight as obesity is one of the risk factors for developing prostate cancer.
- Refrain from smoking tobacco products as avid smokers have a 40% increase in prostate cancer risk.
- Having a balanced diet is important, as research shows that a diet that is high in animal fat content will promote prostate cancer growth.
How Osler Health can help
Since early detection plays a significant role in the successful treatment of prostate cancer, one of the most important things you can do is to attend an annual men’s health check-up. At Osler Health International, we offer personalised check-ups based on your age and health history. Should you have questions or concerns about prostate cancer, please feel free to contact us. If it makes you more comfortable, there are male doctors available for consultations.
Alternatively, if you would like to schedule a health screening, please make an appointment online or visit either of our two clinics in Singapore. Located at Raffles Hotel Arcade and Star Vista, our team of experienced doctors is here for you and all your healthcare needs.
Life in Singapore can get busy, but as early detection is key, please book in for a full men’s health check-up and take the first step in protecting yourself from prostate cancer.