Men’s health

Prostate cancer

The prostate is the gland located under a man’s bladder, in front of the rectum. Generally, prostate cancer develops very slowly. Symptoms can appear after several decades. However, in some cases, it can progress very quickly.

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer occurs when a cancerous growth (malignant tumour) develops that can invade and destroy surrounding tissues, spreading (metastasizing) to other parts of the body.

The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age and seems to be greater in:

  • Black men of African or Caribbean descent
  • Men with a Latin American background
  • Men with close relatives who’ve had this disease
  • Men with close relatives who’ve had other forms of cancer, such as breast or ovarian cancer

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer generally does not produce symptoms as long as it hasn’t reached an advanced stage. React swiftly and consult a doctor if you observe:

  • More frequent urges to urinate (urinary frequency), especially during the night
  • An urgent or sudden need to urinate (urinary urgency)
  • Difficulty in initiating the flow of urine (urinary effort)
  • A weak or slow urinary stream
  • An intermittent urinary stream (starts, then stops)
  • A failure to empty your bladder completely
  • Difficulty in controlling your need to urinate (incontinence), which can lead to urine leakage
  • Blood in your urine or sperm
  • A burning or painful sensation when you urinate
  • Discomfort or pain while seated due to a swollen prostate
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Difficulty in achieving an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Persistent pain or stiffness in the back, hips or pelvis
  • Increased fatigue
  • Higher blood pressure combined with fatigue and weight loss (paraneoplastic syndrome)
  • Renal insufficiency
  • Weakness in the legs or feet
  • A loss of bladder or bowel control

Screening and early diagnosis of prostate cancer

Many doctors administer preventative screening tests to asymptomatic men over the age of 50 and certain younger men showing risk factors. 

Benefits and drawbacks of prostate cancer screening

The advantage of screening is the early detection of certain aggressive forms of cancer, at a stage when they could be cured. However, specialists do not unanimously agree on the usefulness of prostate cancer screening because:

  • Tests that screen for prostate cancer may be positive in many men who do not have cancer.
  • Certain forms of prostate cancer develop so slowly that it is preferable not to treat them in order to avoid side effects and the stress caused needlessly to the patient.
  • In rare cases, certain forms or more aggressive cancer may go undetected by blood tests.

How to detect prostate cancer

The first step of screening for prostate cancer consists of:

  • A rectal examination, i.e., the physician examines the prostate by placing a gloved finger into the rectum to feel if the prostate is hard, irregular or hypertrophied.
  • A blood test to detect the presence of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a substance that is produced solely by prostate tissue.

If cancer is suspected, other tests are taken into consideration:

  • An ultrasound may or may not reveal the presence of cancer, but it also serves to guider prostate biopsy.
  • An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can reveal a more aggressive cancer and serves to guide prostate biopsy.
  • A CT scan (computed tomography scan) is used to capture even more detailed, three-dimensional images.
  • A biopsy is usually performed under local anesthesia and consists of collecting and analyzing prostate tissue samples.

Prostate cancer stage assessment 

Cancer stages represent the degree of progression and gravity of the disease. Performed in cases where cancer is diagnosed, assessment exams are not necessary when the chances of the cancer spreading to the rest of the body are slim. 

Prostate cancer: prognosis

In most men with prostate cancer, the prognosis is quite favourable. Most of them live as long as the majority of men their age whose state of health is similar except for their negative prostate cancer status. Many men achieve long-term remission and are even healed of their sickness. 

Nonetheless, the prognosis for more severe or advanced forms of cancer is unfavourable, unless they are treated very early. In cases of metastases, the prognosis is worse, as this type of cancer cannot be cured.

Prostate cancer treatments

No studies exist that have directly compared various treatments with one another, and each treatment type poses risks, e.g., the possibility of developing erectile difficulties or incontinence. 

Some men, whose life expectancy is not very long due to their age or other health problems, or men whose form of cancer is less aggressive, must make an informed choice regarding treatment. 

Active monitoring

In the realm of active monitoring, in order to avoid or postpone possible treatment side effects, doctors do not prescribe any treatment unless the cancer worsens. Active monitoring is taken into consideration for men whose cancer presents a low likelihood of spreading or producing symptoms. 

Treatments against prostate cancer

Beyond active monitoring, therapeutic approaches to this type of cancer are:

  • An operation to remove the tumour or prostate
  • Radiation therapy
  • To a lesser extent, cryotherapy (freezing) 
  • High-frequency ultrasounds
  • Hormone therapy
  • Chemotherapy


Following a treatment of any kind, PSA levels are measured at regular intervals (generally every 3 to 4 months the first year, and then every 6 months afterwards).

Services provided at your pharmacy

Prostate cancer is a complex disease that requires rigorous monitoring. Did you know that your pharmacist affiliated with Accès pharma provides a chronic disease monitoring program in collaboration with your team of healthcare professionals? Book an appointment online today to make your request.

Pharmacy services

Don’t hesitate to ask your Accès Pharma affiliated-pharmacist for advice. They will respect your privacy and be able to assist you.

To download the PDF brochure, click here

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice and Accès pharma affiliated pharmacist-owners cannot be held responsible for this information. The information was true and accurate at the time of publication, but it is subject to change.

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