What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate gland of the male.
Prostate gland develops some of the fluid that is part of the semen. This gland situated below the bladder and in front of the rectum.
The size of the prostate gland changes according to the age. In younger men, it is near the size of a walnut, but can be of a much larger size in older men.
How does prostate cancer occur?
Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland begin to grow uncontrollably. Almost all the prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas, i.e. those which develop from the gland cells which is responsible to produce the prostate fluid that is added to the semen.
Other rare types of prostate cancer are:
- Small cell carcinomas
- Neuroendocrine tumours (i.e. other than small cell carcinomas)
- Transitional cell carcinomas
What are the causes of prostate cancer?
Like all other cancers, the exact cause of prostate cancer is unclear.
Many factors may be involved such as:
- A family history of the cancer
- Exposure to environmental toxins, such as certain chemicals or radiation
- Mutations in the DNA, or genetic material, that can lead to the growth of cancerous cells
- A diet includes high red meat and high-fat dairy products and low in fruits and vegetables
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
In the early stages of prostate cancer, there are usually no or negligible symptoms.
If symptoms do appear they are:
- Urge to urinate very frequently, even at night
- Painful urination, less commonly ejaculation
- Blood in the urine
- Difficulty in commencing and maintaining urination
- Difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection
The symptoms of advanced prostate cancer are:
- Pain in the bones, mostly in the spine, femur, pelvis, or ribs
- Bone fractures
- Leg weakness
- Urinary incontinence
- Faecal incontinence
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
If you notice any of the above symptoms, you need to visit a doctor who will carry out a physical examination and enquire about any ongoing medical history. He can ask you to undergo a blood test.
If a routine blood test shows abnormally high Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels, the doctor can suggest further examinations and you can be referred to an oncologist.
Your oncologist may perform below test:
- DRE- Digital Rectal Examination– in which a doctor will manually check for any abnormalities of the prostate
- A biomarker test checking the blood, urine, or body tissues of a patient for chemicals which are unique to people suffering from cancer
- A urine test to examine the PCA3 gene only found in prostate cancer cells
- A transrectal ultrasound scan that can provide images of the affected region
- A biopsy, which involves the removal of small tissues from several areas of the prostate gland for examination under a microscope
- Scans include bone, CT scan, or MRI scan to see if cancer has spread
What are the complications of prostate cancer?
The complications of prostate cancer are:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Urinary incontinence
- Faecal incontinence
- Metastasis – a spread of the cancer cells from one part of the body to other parts of the body
- Severe pain
- Higher-than-normal levels of calcium in the blood leading to Vomiting, nausea, and confusion
- Compression of the spinal cord, which may lead to muscle weakness and urinary and faecal incontinence
Who is prone to prostate cancer?
Some people are at higher risk to prostate cancer than others. They are:
- Men who are above fifty years of age
- Men who have a family history of cancers, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, or pancreatic cancer. Especially, having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of occurrence of this disease.
- A person who eats a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products and fewer fruits and vegetables appear to have a quite higher chance of getting prostate cancer.
- Obese men have a higher risk of getting prostate cancer
- Men who are a chain smoker
- A person who inherit gene mutations
- Men who have been exposed to certain harmful toxins, chemicals and radiation
What is the treatment for prostate cancer?
Depending on the severity of your disease, the doctor may prescribe some medicines and observe, wait and monitor if it is in very early stages.
If it is in an advanced stage, then he may suggest radical prostatectomy in which the prostate is surgically removed, or by radiation therapy, or by chemotherapy.
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