Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is common among men over the age of 65. It rarely affects men below the age of 40. According to a report by the National Cancer Institute:

  • Prostate cancer accounts for 9.5 percent of all new cancer cases.
  • 164,690 prostate cancer cases have been reported in 2018.
  • Prostate cancer accounts for 29,430 deaths.
  • 11.2 percent of men are likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
  • More than three million American men have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Understanding the Prostate

The prostate is an integral gland of the male reproductive system. Cancer of the prostate occurs when cells in the prostate gland start to multiply at an uncontrollable rate. This is mainly caused by the mutation of cells. The cells are kept in check by the body’s immune system. However, if the mutated cells multiply, they grow into a tumor, and this causes cancer.

The prostate is a gland located just below the bladder. It plays a dual role of producing the fluid found in semen (seminal fluid) and controls urine. The seminal fluid protects sperm as they travel toward an egg. The prostate gland is active during ejaculation. During this period, sperms are ejected from the testes to the prostate. The seminal fluid is propelled into the urethra by the muscles of the prostate gland.

Understanding the Prostate

About Prostate Cancer

Compared to other cancers, prostate cancer has the third highest number of cancer-related deaths. It is also the highest non-skin cancer that affects Americans.

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Causes of Prostate Cancer

While the precise causes of prostate cancer are still unknown, doctors and scientists have identified several risk factors. It has been highlighted earlier on that prostate cancer is caused by the mutation of DNA in the prostate cell. DNA is the basic component of the cells that make up genes.

Genes are responsible for the function of the cells. They also control how the cells divide, grow, and die. This is the cell life cycle.

There are two types of genes:

  • Oncogenes – They are responsible for cell growth and division. They also keep the cells alive.
  • Tumor suppressor genes – They control cell growth, repair in faults found in the DNA, and see to it that cells die when they are supposed to.

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Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

DNA mutations can result in cancer. The changes in DNA can come from a person’s parents or they can develop them along the way.

Inherited Gene Mutation

Inherited gene mutations account for about five to ten percent of all reported prostate cancer cases. This is known as hereditary prostate cancer.

Acquired Gene Mutation

The DNA changes are only found in the cell that caused the mutation. Being exposed to cancer-causing chemicals can trigger the mutation.

Other cancer causes and risk factors are:

Age

Prostate frequently affects older men. Young men are at a lower risk while men age 60 and over have a higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer.

Race

Although there is no scientific explanation for this, it has been discovered that African-American men commonly develop prostate cancer as compared to Asian-American and Latino men. Moreover, African-American are more likely to die from prostate cancer than white men. In areas with higher concentrations of older African American men such as cities like Atlanta, Georgia, prostate cancer rates are higher than average.

Diet

Eating a lot of red meat and high diary-fat products increases the chances of developing prostate cancer, although the research in this area is not yet completely conclusive.

Location

Men living in North America, Australia, and the Caribbean are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men living anywhere else.

Conditions

Prostate Cancer Symptoms

Prostate cancer doesn’t show any visible symptoms in its early stages. It is difficult to see or discover unless a person visits the doctor to get a medical checkup.

Some of the common prostate cancer symptoms to look out for include:

  • Inability to urinate
  • Difficulties in controlling the beginning and end of urine flow
  • Passing urine frequently mostly during the night
  • Feeling pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Erectile problems
  • Presence of blood in the urine or semen
  • Frequent pain in the lower back, pelvis, hip or belly

Because the prostate cancer survival rate is much higher in the early stages, it’s critical that you keep a watch over your prostate health as you age.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips for Prostate Cancer

Healthy Diet

A diet consisting of fruit and vegetable contains vital nutrients that contribute to an overall good health. Men are urged to avoid foods high in fat.

Exercise

Exercising is a good way of improving a person’s health. It helps to maintain a good weight. Men who don’t exercise have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

Regular Screenings

A regular doctor’s visits help to detect prostate cancer in its early stage. Just like any other cancer, early detection is an important factor in the success of cancer treatment.

The following factors can cause aggressive cancer that may be difficult to treat:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Consuming a high amount of calcium

The following factors do not seem to have a risk:

  • Sexual activity
  • Vasectomy
  • Alcohol consumption

Prostate Cancer Stages

There are a number of stages in the development of prostate cancer. These stage help doctors to figure the best possible treatment plan to use.

These stages determine the severity and how far cancer may have spread.

Stage I

The tumor is small and invisible to the human eye. It can be detected via an imaging test. The cancer is still localized in the prostate and hasn’t spread to other areas.

Stage II

The cancer hasn’t moved to other areas. A digital rectal exam can be used to detect the tumor.

Stage III

The cancer has spread to other areas such as the seminal vesicles or lymph nodes.

Stage IV

The cancer has spread to other areas near the prostate gland but not the seminal vesicles.

What to Expect When Seeking Treatment for Prostate Cancer

The treatment of prostate cancer will depend on a number of factors such as:

  • The number of cells that have mutated (tumor aggressiveness)
  • The spread of the tumor (prostate cancer stage)
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test levels
  • Individual health factors (age, health, etc)

The tests used to diagnose prostate cancer include:

  • Digital rectal examination
  • Biomarker test which checks blood, urine, or body tissue samples
  • PCA3 test
  • Transrectal ultrasound
  • Biopsy

High-risk prostate cancer can be treated using radiotherapy. The two types of radiotherapy that can be used include internal therapy or external therapy. Chemotherapy or other medications may be recommended by your oncologist.

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