The prostate, a small gland shaped like a walnut, is only found in men and is responsible for producing seminal fluid that transports and nourishes sperm. Prostate cancer, one of the most common types of cancer found in men, starts slowly and grows in the prostate gland. Initially, prostate cancer is confined to the prostate gland and requires little treatment, though more aggressive forms can spread quickly and require harsher treatment. Due to the prevalence of prostate cancer, it is crucial for everyone to understand the basics of this disease.
The reason why symptoms of prostate cancer are serious is that they do not present until the tumor in the prostate begins to put pressure on surrounding structures. Symptoms that affect a patient's urinary function that are indicative of prostate cancer include the urge to urinate more frequently than usual, urgent feelings of needing to urinate, unusual need to urinate at night, interrupted or weak flow of urine, pain or burning during urination, and blood in the urine. Other symptoms known to indicate prostate cancer include problems with obtaining and maintaining an erection, pain during ejaculation, decreased amount of ejaculate, blood in the semen, feelings of pain or pressure in the rectum, and stiffness or pain in the pelvis, lower back, thighs, or hips. It is important to note while these symptoms are indicative of prostate cancer, many other benign conditions can cause them as well.
While it is currently unclear what causes prostate cancer, many doctors believe it begins with abnormal cells in the prostate gland. Abnormal cells, which live longer than healthy cells, are generated when the cell's DNA causes them to grow and divide quicker than healthy cells. The accumulation of abnormal cells may cause the formation of a tumor, which can grow to sizes that then invade nearby tissue. Prostate cancer spreads when abnormal cells break off from the tumor and spread to other parts of the body aside from the prostate gland.
The four major risk factors for prostate cancer are age, race, family history, and obesity. For instance, the risk of developing prostate cancer increases as men age. Although the reasons are unknown, black men appear to be more at risk of developing prostate cancer than men of other races. They are also more likely to experience more advanced or aggressive prostate cancer cases.
Men who have relatives who had prostate cancer, they are more at risk of developing it than men without the family history. Furthermore, men who have a family history of the genes linked to an increased risk of breast cancer Viagra Generic 130mg (BRCA1 and BRCA 2) or have a strong medical history of breast cancer in the family, their risk of developing prostate cancer also increases. Finally, it is important to note obese men who also have prostate cancer may be more likely to have an advanced form of the disease and thus have cases more difficult to treat.
Complications in cases of prostate cancer may arise when the disease spreads to nearby organs, such as the bladder. The cancer may also spread throughout the bloodstream or lymphatic system to bones and other organs. Prostate cancer that has spread to the bones may cause bone pain and broken bones. It is particularly crucial to note if prostate cancer has spread throughout the body, although it may remain treatable, it is likely to require much harsher treatment measures and, unfortunately, is unlikely to be cured. Other complications include incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
Prostate Cancer Screening
Two primary tests are used in prostate cancer screening to look for malignancy. A traditional test used is a digital rectal examination. This test allows a physician to feel the surface of the patient's prostate through the wall of the large intestine for any structural or anatomical abnormalities. The other diagnostic test is the prostate-specific antigen blood test, a test that measures the quantity of a specific protein produced in the prostate. Many men over fifty years old undergo this blood test to screen for prostate cancer. A normal level of prostate-specific antigen in the blood of a healthy individual is four nanograms per milliliter. An individual who has levels higher than four nanograms per milliliter may be referred to undergo a prostate biopsy for further diagnostic purposes.
Further Diagnostic Tests
An individual who has high levels of prostate-specific antigen in their blood or a structural abnormality detected during a digital rectal examination may need to undergo further diagnostic tests to determine if they are affected by prostate cancer. Diagnostic imaging tests such as x-rays, cystoscopy, and transrectal ultrasound may be ordered for further evaluation of the detected abnormality. A urinalysis may also be performed to rule out a urinary tract infection. After imaging tests have been performed, patients may need to undergo a procedure to biopsy tissue in their prostate if malignancy is suspected. A prostate gland biopsy is performed with the use of transrectal ultrasound and a series of long hollow needles placed into the prostate gland. Over a dozen of tissue samples are captured in the needles from the prostate gland and are sent to a laboratory be examined. A pathologist who specializes in the identification of malignant and abnormal cells then determines if cancerous cells are present in the patient's prostate gland.
Preventing Prostate Cancer
While many factors that cause an individual to be at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer cannot be changed, others are within an individual's control. An individual who is not a healthy weight can exercise regularly and eat fewer calories to obtain a healthy weight to reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer. They can also decrease their risk if they limit their intake of fats that come from dairy products and red meats. An individual who wants to help prevent or delay the development of prostate cancer can refrain from engaging in harmful behaviors like smoking cigarettes and excessively consuming alcoholic beverages. Prostate cancer is less likely to occur in individuals who keep their pre-existing conditions under control, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, stress, and high blood pressure. An individual who wants to decrease their risk of developing malignancy in their prostate gland can avoid the over-supplementation of megavitamins and calcium.
Catching prostate cancer in its early stages is the best way to treat the disease. Thus, most doctors will recommend regular cancer screenings, not just for prostate cancer, particularly for patients over fifty and for those at an increased risk (e.g., those with a family history of cancer). A doctor may refer their patient to a urologist if signs of prostate cancer are present. Once diagnosed with prostate cancer, the urologist will often send the patient to an oncologist to begin radiation therapy. A biopsy may also be necessary to determine the grade of cancer present. Other tests doctors may perform include bone scans, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans.
These tests help doctors determine how to proceed with treatment, which typically includes elements such as radiation therapy, hormone therapy, surgery, freezing prostate cancer, chemotherapy, catheters, and biological therapy. Patients will often also be taking specific medication to help treat their cancer. Doctors will also regularly revisit the tests they previously performed and test patients regularly to monitor the effectiveness of treatment and the progression (or lack thereof) of the disease.
Living With Prostate Cancer
Patients diagnosed with prostate cancer may face numerous physical and emotional challenges. The treatment methods used, such as surgery, cryotherapy, watchful waiting, radiation therapy chemotherapy, bone-directed treatment, and vaccine treatment can have adverse effects on a patient's mental and physical health. Individuals affected by prostate cancer report having problems with sexual function and bladder control. Many of these issues are likely to resolve after a patient finishes their curative treatment, but permanent effects on the body from prostate cancer and its treatment are not unheard of. Physicians who specialize in treating prostate cancer can help patients with the management and relief of their adverse side effects from medications and therapies. A patient's prostate cancer care does not stop when they are declared cancer-free. An affected individual needs to engage in proper follow-up care to ensure any recurrence is detected early.