Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the prostate gland. It is a small organ shaped like a walnut found below the bladder of men. This gland is mainly responsible for producing seminal fluid in which the sperm can freely float to reach the urethra.
Facts on Prostate Cancer :
- Prostate cancer is the one that develops in the male’s reproductive organ and is one of the common types of cancer occurring in men.
- Prostate cancer cannot be diagnosed in early stages since very often it would not show any symptoms.
- Prostate cancer develops in elderly men (above 65 years) and only in rare cases it occurs in middle aged men.
- Often, prostate cancer develops very slowly and can be diagnosed in advanced stages.
- Each year, about 230 million new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the USA alone.
- African American men have the maximum death rate due to prostate cancer.
- Prostate cancer can be treated with fair chances of survival if found in early stages and before the cancer cells have spread to other parts.
- There are many men who live with prostate cancer for many years with proper treatment. And often they die of other causes and not due to prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer would not produce any sign in the initial stages. It becomes evident for the person only in advanced stages. Some of the symptoms of prostate cancer are leakage of blood in urine, leakage of blood in the semen, difficulty in passing urine, pain/discomfort in the pelvic region, erectile dysfunction and bone pain.
Exact cause of prostate cancer is still unknown. More than 80% of the cases diagnosed are above 65 years and you have more chance of developing it if your father or close relative had it. Cancer cells begin to grow in the prostate gland when some of the cells undergo abnormal mutation. Under normal condition, old cells would die giving way for freshly formed cells. But these cells continue to live forming a mass or tumor growing and multiplying rapidly.
Risk Factors :
Old aged men, African American men, having a family history of prostate cancer or any other type of cancer makes a man prone to develop prostate cancer. Black population has increased chance of getting this cancer and often it is diagnosed in the final stages. Eating fat rich diet daily makes you prone to develop prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is harmless if diagnosed in early stages. Often the growth can be controlled and the person would survive for many years. Unfortunately if the cancer cells begin to spread to other organs or enter into the blood it can cause serious complications. In case if the cancer cells have entered into the nearby bones, it can cause intense bone pain and fractures.
Prostate cancer can cause incontinence due to loss of control of bladder. In some men, it can cause erectile dysfunction either due to cancerous cells or due to cancer treatment. It is wise to get screened for prostate cancer if you are above 60 years men.
Tests & Stages :
Your doctor would do rectal exam using digital medium to detect any abnormal growth or change in size or shape of prostate gland. He may order for ultrasound scan of prostate gland using transrectal procedure. A thin tube is inserted into the rectum and scanned for images of prostate gland.
To confirm the diagnosis, he may take out a sample of tissue (prostate biopsy) from prostate gland to detect the presence of cancer causing cells. After confirming the analysis, your doctor would find out the stage of cancer before treating it. You will be asked to do more tests like bone scan and imaging tests like CT/MRI scan if he suspects cancer cells have metastasized (invaded other organs).
- In the first stage, cancer cells are confined only to prostate gland.
- In the second stage, cancer cells may be aggressive and have grown larger in size.
- In the next stage, cancerous cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes and tissues.
- In the final stage, cancer would have wide spread to nearby organs like bladder, bones and even lungs.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
Method of treatment may vary depending on factors of grading and staging of cancer. You may not need immediate treatment if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the first stage. Your doctor will wait and watch by monitoring your health closely.
- Radiation :
This therapy can be done either through external source or internal source. The individual will be lying on the table and high powered energy beam will be sent directly into his body. Depending on the health condition, the person will have to undergo radiation therapy continuously for several days or weeks.
In the internal approach, brachytherapy is done in which radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate gland which emits radiation in controlled fashion. Radiation can cause adverse effects like losing control over stools, frequent urination and erectile dysfunction.
- Hormone Therapy :
In this method, medications are given to stop producing testosterone since the growth of cancer cells rely on this hormone only. Cancer cells would die eventually or stop growing once hormone therapy is started. Luteinizing hormone agents like leuprolide or goserelin or triptorelin are given. Medications like casodex or Nilandron are effective anti androgens in blocking the production of testosterone.
- Surgery :
Surgery is done to remove the testicles which would drastically reduce the level of testosterone in the body. For many men, combination of hormone and radiation therapy is highly effective. Prostate gland is removed (prostatectomy) by surgery along with the nearby tissues and lymph nodes wherein cancer cells have invaded. It is done by making incision on your abdomen, or by laparoscopic method. For some men, incision is made in the area between the anus and scrotum to remove the prostate gland.
- Cryosurgery :
In this method, cold nitrogen gas is passed directly into the gland to freeze and kill the cancer cells in the prostate. Heating the tissues of prostate can be done for killing the cancerous cells using high powered ultrasound beam.
- Chemotherapy :
This method is used for men with advanced stage of prostate cancer. It can be given in the form of oral pills or as injection on the vein.
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Prostate Cancer :
Lifestyle Modifications :
Accept that you are having prostate cancer and learn more about it. Discuss with your doctor freely about the stage in which you are at present. Stay connected with your family and friends to get enough support. Join any group of cancer survivors to share your feelings.