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Prostate Cancer: What to watch for

Armen Hareyan's picture

(NC) - When doctors downplayed his symptoms of fatigue and a weaker urine stream because of his relatively young age, Robert Lemieux, 46, arranged privately to have a blood test done for prostate-specific antigen (PSA), or PSA testing. The results of the test, which serves as a marker for prostate cancer, led him to a specialist. The diagnosis after a biopsy was aggressive prostate cancer.

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located in the male reproductive system just below the bladder. Cancer of the prostate gland occurs when cells grow uncontrollably to form tumours. Risk factors for developing prostate cancer include being 65 years of age or older, and a family history of the disease.

In Canada, prostate cancer is the number one serious cancer afflicting men. This year, more than 20,000 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and over 4,000 men will die of the disease.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include the following:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night

  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine

  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine

  • Painful or burning urination

  • Difficulty having an erection

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  • Painful ejaculation

  • Blood in urine or semen

  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs

After his diagnosis a year ago, Robert started hormone therapy that was only initially helpful. He then participated in a clinical trial and began taking a drug called Taxotere (docetaxel), a chemotherapy drug that has had very positive effects in men with metastatic prostate cancer who don't respond to hormone treatment. Robert had a remarkable response to the drug and is now in remission.

"Men need to be alert to physical changes they experience, regardless of age, and be insistent about getting the necessary tests and access to specialists," cautions Robert. He also notes that if a family member has breast cancer, as does his own mother, men should be checked for prostate cancer, because both cancers are similarly hormonally based.

Taxotere is currently under review by Health Canada for use in the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer.


- News Canada