Prevalence, mortality and causes
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. In Switzerland some 6,400 men are affected per year, with the frequency of new diagnoses increasing from the age of 55.
As regards the types of cancer proving to be fatal in men (period from 2012 to 2017), prostate cancer at 14.3% is only second to lung cancer (21.3%), followed by colon cancer (9.8%).
Evidence has shown that the two greatest risk factors here are age and family history. If first-degree relatives (father, brother) have had prostate cancer, the risk of the disease increases around twofold.
The prognosis for prostate cancer is good. Prostate cancer is a slow-growing carcinoma, with a 5-year survival rate of 91% if detected early.
Initial signs and diagnosis
Prostate cancer often causes no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. It is only once tumours become more sizeable that clinical symptoms occur such as a weaker flow of urine, a frequent need to urinate or pain in the prostate.
The most important tests are rectal palpation (using the finger), measurement of the PSA value in the blood and ultrasound scanning (sonography). If a malignant tumour is suspected, diagnosis will be made by taking a tissue sample (biopsy), followed by examination under a microscope.
Early screening should be carried out from the age of 45 to 50 years to ensure that prostate cancer is quickly identified, when it can often be treated successfully.
Options for treatment
Several options are available to treat prostate cancer depending on the stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis and the age and life expectancy of the patient.
In accordance with the S3 or EAU guidelines the following therapies can be used with prostate cancer:
- Long-term observation
- Active monitoring
- Surgery: radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate)
- Radiotherapy/irradiation (including brachytherapy)
- Hormone therapy
- Other treatment methods
Each therapy must be agreed individually during a personal discussion between the patient and his doctor.