A Beginner’s Guide to Prostate Cancer

Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. It is the second leading cause of cancer death among men of all races. In 2015, the American Cancer Society estimated over 220,000 men with prostate cancer. But with the latest treatments for prostate cancer, it can be treated effectively and more than 2 million men in the U.S count themselves as prostate cancer survivors.

Signs Symptoms of Prostate Cancer


Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. But more advanced prostate cancers can sometimes cause symptoms, such as:

– Problem with urinating – including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night.
– Blood in the urine
– Leaking of urine when laughing or coughing
– Erectile Dysfunction
– Pain in the hips, spine, chest or other areas from cancer spread to bones
– Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord.

How is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of prostate cancer involves a combination of three tests.

– Physical Examination History

An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.

– Digital Rectal Examination

As part of a physical examination your doctor inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into your rectum and feels toward the front of your body. Findings on this exam are compared to notes about the patient’s prior digital rectal examinations.

– Transrectal Ultrasound

This is a procedure in which a probe that is about the size of a finger is inserted into the rectum to check the prostate. The probe is used to bounce high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.

– Transrectal Magnetic Resonance Imaging

This is a procedure that uses a strong magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This helps the MRI machine make clearer pictures of the prostate and nearby tissue. It is done to find out if the cancer has spread outside the prostate into nearby tissues.

– Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test

The PSA blood test measures the level of a protein found in the blood that is produced by the prostate gland. This can indicate an increased likelihood of prostate cancer if the PSA is at an increased or elevated level but it does not provide a definitive diagnosis. Prostate cancer can be found in patients with a low PSA level but this occurs less than 20% of the time.

– Prostate Biopsy

A biopsy refers to a procedure which involves taking of a sample from a tissue in the body. Prostate cancer is only definitively diagnosed by finding cancer cells on a biopsy sample taken from the prostate gland. A biopsy procedure is usually uncomplicated, with just some numbness, pain, or tenderness in the area for a short time afterwards.

5 Common Keratoconus Questions Answered

Keratoconus

1. What Is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a progressive, non-inflammatory disease which affects the cornea. The cornea is the window of the eye and the main area where images are focused when we see. Keratoconus causes thinning of the cornea which leads to bulging, creating a cone-like shape of the cornea. This makes the vision distorted and blurred overtime which gets worse. Most patients with keratoconus are usually very near-sighted with a high level of astigmatism which cannot be corrected with glasses.

2. What Are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?

Early signs of keratoconus can be constant changes in prescription leading to having to change glasses more often. Driving at night also tends to become more difficult as the disease progresses. Many patients often experience glare and halos, double vision, and ghosting amongst other visual disturbances.

3. What Causes Keratoconus?

In a normal eye, small protein fibres called collagen help to keep the cornea in a dome-like shape and free from bulges. In an eye that suffers from keratoconus, the collagen fibres become weak and cannot keep the shape of the eye, which causes the progressive bulging of the cornea. Keratoconus can run in families and can develop from a young age. If it does run in the family, it is recommended having children’s eyes checked with an ophthalmologist for signs of keratoconus regularly. Keratoconus can also develop at a later age from certain things like chronic eye rubbing.

4. What Can Be Done for Keratoconus?

Depending on the severity of the keratoconus will depend on what treatment option would be recommended. Initially glasses or soft contact lenses may be advised to help with the changing vision. As the disease progresses specialist contact lenses may be required such as hard contact lenses to try and more adequately correct the vision, but these have to be correctly fitted and regular follow ups are needed to monitor the vision. Prior to the year 2000 in the UK, there was nothing that could be done to slow or stop disease progression, however a now common procedure is corneal collagen cross linking. This involves using riboflavin (vitamin B2) and ultraviolet light to help strengthen the collagen fibres and create more cross linking between them to increase the strength and rigidity of the cornea. Corneal collagen cross linking is the procedure of choice for most ophthalmologists and highly recommended due to its safety and effectiveness that is proven by many major studies. Other treatments that may be suggested are corneal ring implants and laser photo therapeutic keratoplasty (PTK). If the disease has progressed too far the only option to help may be to have a corneal transplant, this would only be recommended in severe cases where no other treatments can help.

5. Is There a Cure for Keratoconus?

At the moment, there is no cure for keratoconus. As mentioned above the only treatment to stop or slow the disease progression is corneal collagen cross linking. It is extremely important for keratoconus patients to have regular follow up appointments and to follow the advice of their ophthalmologist. If keratoconus is left without regular monitoring or treatment it can progress to a severe case where a corneal transplant is the only option and there are no guarantees this, or any other treatment, will work or help.