The second most common type of cancer among men in Brazil, behind only non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is expected to affect 71,730 Brazilians in 2023, according to an estimate from the National Cancer Institute – Inca. In Bahia, the estimate is 6,510 new cases, 1,200 of which in Salvador. In the 21st century, prejudice and misinformation are still the main challenges in combating this type of cancer, responsible for 28% of deaths in the male population, which is affected by some malignant neoplasm.
Raising awareness among the male population about the importance of routine consultations and exams to prevent health problems, especially cancer, is still a goal to be achieved. “Preventive exams for prostate cancer are the best way to diagnose the disease at an early stage. The tumor has around a 90% chance of being cured when diagnosed early”, says oncologist Rafael Batista, medical director of NOB Oncoclínicas.
The recommendation is that men over the age of 50 undergo a clinical examination (rectal examination) and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test annually to screen for the disease. In cases where there is a family history, exams should be carried out from the age of 45.
In addition to age, family history, hereditary genetic factors, obesity and occupational exposure to chemical agents are also risk factors for the development of this type of cancer, which mainly affects men over 65 years of age.
In its initial stage, the prostate tumor evolves asymptomatically and silently, and generally only shows signs when it is already in a more advanced stage. The main symptoms of the disease may be similar to benign growth of the gland, with the characteristics of difficulty urinating followed by pain and/or burning, prolonged dripping at the end, increased urinary frequency during the day or night. At a more advanced stage, the presence of blood in the semen, sexual impotence, and other discomforts resulting from metastasis in other organs may occur.
Treatment depends on the stage and aggressiveness of the tumor. “The treatment adopted must be individualized and the patient must be informed about its risks and benefits”, explains oncologist Rafael Batista.
In early cases and with low aggressive characteristics, vigilant monitoring with periodic consultations and exams should be discussed with the patient, as it is possible to spare them from some toxicities that the treatment can cause. In other cases of localized disease, surgery, radiotherapy with or without hormonal blockade and brachytherapy (also known as internal radiotherapy) can be performed with good response rates.