Prostate Cancer: The prostate is a walnut-sized exocrine gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm on their journey to fuse with a female ovum, or egg, and produce human life. Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate gland.
The protein excreted by the prostate, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), helps semen retain its liquid state. An abundance of this protein in the blood is one of the first signs of prostate cancer. The urethra is the tube through which sperm and urine exit the body. It also passes within the prostate.
As such, the prostate is also liable for urine control. It can tighten and restrict the flow of urine through the urethra using thousands of small muscle fibers.
How does Prostate Cancer start?
It normally starts in the glandular cells. This is distinguished as adenocarcinoma. Tiny changes happen in the shape and size of the prostate gland cells, identified as prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). This tends to happen gently and does not show symptoms until further into the progression.
Nearly 50 percent of all men over the age of 50 years have PIN. The high-grade PIN is considered pre-cancerous, and it needs further investigation. The low-grade PIN is not a cause for concern.
Prostate cancer can be successfully managed if it is diagnosed before metastasis, although if it spreads, it is more dangerous. It most commonly spreads to the bones.
Risk factors for Prostate Cancer
The specific cause of prostate cancer is unclear, although there are many possible risk factors.
Prostate carcinoma is rare among men under the age of 45 years, although more common after the age of 50 years.
Prostate cancer occurs most commonly in North America, on the Caribbean islands, northwestern Europe, and in Australia. The causes remain unclear.
Specific genetic and ethnic groups have arisen the risk of prostate cancer.
In the U.S., prostate cancer is at least 60 percent extra common and 2 to 3 times larger deadly with black men than non-Hispanic white men.
A man also has a much larger risk of developing cancer if his equal twin has it, and a person whose brother or father had prostate cancer has twice the risk of developing it resembled other men. Becoming a brother who has or has had prostate cancer is larger of genetic risk than having a father with the disease.
Researchers have recommended that a diet high in red meat or high-fat dairy products may develop a person’s chances of developing prostate cancer, but the connection is neither confirmed nor clear.
Some research has recommended that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use may decrease the risk of prostate cancer. Others have combined NSAID use with a greater risk of death from the disease. This is a debatable area, and results have not been established.
It is frequently believed that obesity is associated with the development of prostate cancer, but the American Cancer Society maintains that there is no clear connection.
Showing to Agent Orange, a biochemical weapon used in the Vietnam war may possibly be connected to the development of more aggressive types of cancer, but the extent of this has not been verified.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
There are normally no symptoms while the early stages of prostate cancer.
If symptoms appear, they usually involve one or more of the following:
- Difficulty commencing and maintaining urination
- Frequent urges to urinate, including at night
- Blood in the urine
- Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection may be difficult(Erectile dysfunction)
- Painful urination and, less commonly, discharge
Advanced prostate cancer can affect the following symptoms:
- Bone pain, often in the spine, femur, pelvis, or ribs
- Bone fractures
If a cancer develops to the spine and compresses the spinal cord, there may be:
- Urinary incontinence
- Leg weakness
- Fecal incontinence
Staging of Prostate Cancer
Physicians will use the results of your prostate examination, biopsy and scans to distinguish the “stage” of your prostate cancer. The stage of cancer will decide which types of treatments will be required.
Stage 1 – the cancer is really small and entirely within the prostate gland
Stage 2 – the cancer is inside the prostate gland, but is larger
Stage 3 – cancer has spread from the prostate and may have got into the tubes that carry semen
Stage 4 – cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or the different part of the body, including the bladder, rectum or bones; approximately 20-30% of cases are diagnosed at this stage.
Tests for Prostate Cancer
There is no particular test for prostate cancer. All the tests done to help diagnose the condition have benefits and risks, which your physician should discuss with you.
The most regularly done tests for prostate cancer are blood tests, a physical examination of your prostate and a biopsy.
The blood test, distinguished as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, estimates the level of PSA and may help detect early prostate cancer. Men are not routinely suggested PSA tests to screen for prostate cancer, as results can be unpredictable.
This is because the PSA blood test is not definite to prostate cancer. PSA can be elevated due to a large non-cancerous growth of the prostate (BPH), a urinary tract infection or inflammation of the prostate, as well as prostate cancer. This means an elevated PSA can lead to unnecessary tests and treatment.
How is Prostate Cancer Treated?
For various men with prostate cancer, treatment is not directly necessary.
If the cancer is at an initial stage and not producing symptoms, a policy of “watchful waiting” or “active surveillance” may be utilized. This requires careful monitoring of your condition.
Some circumstances of prostate cancer can be corrected if treated in the early stages. Treatments involve surgically excluding the prostate, radiotherapy and hormone therapy.
Some cases are entirely diagnosed at a later stage. If cancer spreads to distinct parts of the body, typically the bones, it cannot be corrected and approach is focused on prolonging life and alleviating symptoms.
All treatment prospects carry the risk of notable side effects, including erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
Current treatments, such as high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) or cryotherapy, aim to diminish these side effects. Some hospitals may attempt them as an alternative to surgery, radiotherapy or hormone therapy. However, the long-term effectiveness of these treatments is not yet known.
Can Prostate Cancer Be Prevented?
There is no assured way to prevent prostate cancer. Various risk factors such as age, race, and family history can’t be controlled. However, there are some things you can do that sway lower your risk of prostate cancer.
Diet, Weight & Physical Activity
The impacts of body weight, physical activity, and diet on prostate cancer risk are not cleared, but there are things you can do that might lower your risk, such as:
- Eating at least 2½ cups of a vast variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
- Being physically active.
- Staying at a healthy weight.
Vitamin, mineral, and other supplements
Some earlier studies recommended that getting certain vitamin or mineral supplements, such as vitamin E or selenium, might decrease prostate cancer risk. But in a general study, neither vitamin E nor selenium was found to lower prostate cancer risk.
Numerous studies are now seeming at the possible effects of soy proteins on prostate cancer risk. The results of these studies are not yet available.
Before starting vitamins or other supplements, talk with your doctor.
Some drugs might help decrease the risk of prostate cancer.
Some study suggests that men who take a daily aspirin might have a moderate risk of getting and dying from prostate cancer. But more research is required to show if the possible benefits outweigh the risks, such as an enhanced risk of bleeding.
5-alpha reductase inhibitors
The medications finasteride (Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart) have been studied to see if they can lower prostate cancer risk, but it’s not clear if the benefits exceed the risks for most men. Still, men who want to know more about these drugs should discuss them with their physicians. These medications are currently used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous growth of the prostate.