The prostate is a small gland that is the size of a walnut, located between the urethra and the bladder in the male reproductive system. It produces fluid that sustains and transports the semen and keeps the sperm healthy for fertilization. Prostate cancer usually develops slowly in the prostate where the symptoms don’t appear for many years. It usually begins within the edges of the prostate and can occur in more than one place.
The symptoms appear only when the prostate grows large enough and affects the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis. Since the prostate is a glandular structure, prostate cancer is adenocarcinoma in 95% of the cases. Prostate cancer is thought to be linked with androgens, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone. Older men who would have been exposed to androgens throughout their lives are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), this is the most common cancer in American men. By 2021, there will be 248,530 new cases of prostate cancer and about 34,130 men will die of prostate cancer. 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
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Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer
Listed are a few factors that could increase your chances of developing prostate cancer:
Age: The chances of developing prostate cancer increase after the age of 50. About 6 in 10 men above the age of 65 will get prostate cancer.
Geography: Prostate cancer is common in North America, northwestern Europe, the Caribbean islands, and Australia. It is less common in Central and South America, Asia, and Africa.
Genetics: Family history of prostate or breast cancer can be an indicator. Inherited mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer in families, can also increase the risk of prostate cancer in men (especially BRCA2). Men with colorectal cancer have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer as well.
Obesity: Some studies indicate that obese men may be at a higher risk of developing advanced prostate cancer, but that is not true in each case though.
Prostatitis: Inflammation of the prostate may be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer. It is often seen that samples of inflamed prostate tissue also contain cancer, but the link between the two needs to be researched more.
Infections: Chronic infections or sexually transmitted infections might increase the risk of prostate cancer because these conditions cause inflammation of the prostate.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
The symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Needing to urinate more frequently, especially during the night
- The difficulty, loss of control, burning, or pain during urination
- Blood in urine or semen
- Erectile dysfunction or painful ejaculation
Men with advanced prostate cancer experience additional symptoms. This happens because cancer spreads to other body parts, such as the lymph nodes or bones. The symptoms seen are:
- Swelling in the legs or pelvic area
- Numbness or pain in the hips, legs, or feet
- Bone pain that persists or results in fractures
Causes of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer begins when the DNA in the prostrate cells undergoes changes. The changes result in cell enlargement and cell multiplication at a much faster rate than in normal cells. The DNA mutations keep oncogenes on, turning off the tumor suppressor genes. That is the reason why these cells start growing and multiplying out of control. These cells continue to grow and cause the normal cells to die. When such abnormal cells accumulate in one place, they form a tumor. This tumor might invade other tissues. DNA changes may be acquired or inherited from a parent.
Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer
Medical organizations encourage men in their 50s to do prostate cancer screenings annually. The general physician is likely to prescribe tests to check for any urine infections. Digital rectal examination may be done as well. The healthcare provider will also perform a risk assessment to keep an eye on the risk factors.
If the test results show high levels of prostate-specific antigens (PSAs), the doctor may ask for an MRI to be done. If a problem is detected, then it can be targeted with a biopsy.
In the case of metastatic cancer, further scans like MRIs, CTs, PETs, and isotope bone scans are recommended.
How to Treat Prostate Cancer
Treatment of prostate cancer will depend on each individual’s case. For most, no treatment will be necessary. Usually, people with cancer are treated with a multi-disciplinary team (MDT). The team consists of cancer surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, oncologists (radiotherapy and chemotherapy specialists), and specialist nurses.
The course of the treatment is decided on the basis of the type and size of the cancer, what grade it is, and the overall health of the patient. Another consideration is location — whether the cancer is confined to one place or has spread to other areas. Surgery, radiotherapy, brachytherapy, chemotherapy, and steroids are some of the treatment options.
- Is there anything that can be done to prevent prostate cancer? Maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious food, and regular exercise can reduce the risk of having prostate cancer.
- Will I be able to have a normal sex life with Prostate Cancer? Yes. Although there may be some temporary issues that arise during and after prostate cancer, they can be cured or helped with prescription medication.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!