Prostate cancer is the main cause of death of men in Costa Rica, according to the Ministry of Health. Based on health surveillance data, in 2021 468 men died for this cause, which represents 16% of mortality among males.
Just on Thursday, November 17th, World Fight against Prostate Cancer Day was commemorated. The prostate is a gland that produces liquid to protect and nurture sperm, is located in front of the rectum and under the bladder.
In young men it is approximately the size of a nut, but with age it can increase in size. “The recommended age to perform the prostate exam is from the age of 50, in Afro-descendant men, it must be carried out from 45 years. Also those with a family history of prostate cancer, since, if the father or brother suffers, the risk increases to 30%”, said Rolando Loria, of 21st century radiotherapy.
According to health data, the provinces with the highest mortality rate for prostate cancer are:
• Guanacaste, with 25 deaths per 100,000 men
• Puntarenas, with 21 deaths per 100,000 men
• Alajuela, with 18 deaths per 100,000 men
The oncologist explained that in initial stages prostate cancer generally does not produce symptoms. “So that the diagnosis of prostate cancer is more precise, an antigen test and rectal touch should be performed”, said the specialist.
In advanced stages, symptoms such as:
• Urinary problems, such as weak or interrupted urine flow, sudden desire to urinate and increase in frequency, difficulty starting urine flow and to empty the bladder completely and pain or burning when urinating.
• Sexual problems associated with the difficulty in having an erection.
• Presence of blood in the urine or semen.
• Back pain, hips, or pelvis that does not disappear.
According to the specialist, the diagnostic methods are:
Rectal touch- The doctor palpates the prostate to review its size, consistency and uniformity. Specific prostate antigen test is performed when measuring the level of prostate antigen in a blood sample.
Biopsy- Prostate fabric is extracted and analyzed to confirm the presence of cancer.
Transrectal ultrasound– This test is performed when taking a biopsy.
“Depending on the age and health situation, there are options to treat prostate cancer, such as radiotherapy, surgery, hormonal therapy and chemotherapy”, said Loria. Among the measures that men can take to prevent the disease, there is a healthy lifestyle, avoid obesity, sedentary and not smoking.