What To Know About Prostate Cancer

what to know about prostate cancer

What is Prostate Cancer?

The prostate sits below the bladder, in front of the rectum and wrapped around the urethra. It is a walnut-sized exocrine gland which is part of the male reproductive system. It is responsible for the production of a seminal fluid that transports and nourishes the sperm.

Prostate cancer is a major concern and is tagged as the most common cancer among men.

Prostate cancer is a disease that progresses initially in a very slow manner. It progresses so slowly that a man may not be aware that he has it for many years. Research shows that many men who have died of old age actually had prostate cancer and it was only discovered after an autopsy.

When Are The Symptoms of Prostate Cancer Noticeable

When the rate of cancer growth accelerates is when the symptoms usually become noticeable. This rate of change is also used as a diagnostic and monitoring tool by doctors when treating the problem.

It usually starts as tiny alterations in the size and shape of the gland cells and this occurrence is referred to as PIN or Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia (PIN). Research has shown that 50% of men at the age of 50 have PIN. However, these changes can only be seen by using a microscope.

The symptoms can only be felt when a man’s prostate becomes large enough to affect his urethra. This is when an individual will notice having an increased frequency of urination accompanied with a feeling that the bladder is never fully emptied despite several trips to the toilet.

However, if you feel these symptoms, it is important to not self-diagnose and assume you have prostate cancer.  This is because these symptoms may only mean that you have benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH which is a non-cancerous type of prostate enlargement.

When Prostatic Cancer Reaches Metastatic Stage

Once all the tests show that you have prostate cancer it has to be treated as soon as possible.  If left untreated, cancerous prostate cells can spread to other parts of the body and this occurrence is referred to as metastasis.

This is when the cancerous prostate cells may lodge, spread and grow to be secondary tumors into other areas of the body.

Determining the Severity of Prostate Cancer

Determining the stage of cancer is a very important step towards selecting which type of treatment plan to use.  By the use of the TNM (Tumor/Nodes/Metastases) system the size of the tumor, the emergence of metastases and the number of lymph nodes involved will be determined.

A computer tomography is also used to be able to check whether the cancer cells have spread through the person’s pelvis.  Bone scans will also be done in order to find out whether the cancer cells have penetrated into the bones.

An endorectal coil magnetic resonance imaging will also be used to be able to evaluate the seminal vesicles and the prostatic capsules.

What Causes Prostate Cancer

The exact cause of prostate cancer still remains to be discovered.  However, statistics reveal that there are certain factors that increase a person’s risk of developing the condition.

The two main markers are age and genetics. As a male ages his chances of developing prostate cancer increases. In the vast majority of cases, prostate cancer was diagnosed among men aged 50 years and above.

Men whose brother or father and other first degree relatives diagnosed with prostate cancer are at higher risk of developing the same condition.

Age

The risk of prostate cancer increases with age. The American Cancer Society reports that ten per cent of cancer-related deaths among male elders involve prostate cancer and the majority of those affected were men aged 60 and above.

Environment

Men who have been living in countries north of 40 degrees latitude were found to be at higher risk of developing prostate cancer as they age compared to male individuals residing elsewhere.

One reason for this is less exposure to sunlight which equates to not enough vitamin D in the body. This may contribute to one’s risk of having prostate cancer.

Smoking

Although several studies have demonstrated the link between smoking and the development of solid tumors, the association between smoking and prostate cancer still remains a subject of debate.

However, many experts believe that smoking largely contributes to prostate cancer knowing that each cigarette contains multiple carcinogens.

Research also shows that male individuals who regularly smoke were found to have high levels of testosterone and androsterone hormones and this occurrence can contribute to the progression of prostate cancer cells.

Soft drinks

Drinking an 11oz soft drink a day may increase a man’s risk of having the most aggressive form of prostate cancer by up to 40%. This statement was based on a study conducted by Swedish experts at the Lund University. The results of this study were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Soft drinks also contain sugar which has been shown in studies to feed cancer cells.

Meat Fats

Men who include too many fats regularly in their diet, particularly those fats from red meats are more likely to develop prostate cancer.

Research reveals that prostate cancer is more prevalent in countries which have a high consumption of meat and dairy products.

This is due to the fact that fats are found to have the ability to stimulate the production of testosterone hormones which may speed up the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Having high testosterone levels may also lead to increased activity of dormant prostate cancer cells. There are also studies which showed that high testosterone levels in the body jumpstarts the onset of prostate cancer.

Additionally, meat cooked at high temperatures has been shown to increase the content of cancer-causing substances.

Family History

Prostate cancer may also run in the family, so if someone in your family is diagnosed with prostate cancer there is an increased possibility that you may develop the condition.

Excess Folic Acid

A study spearheaded by Dr. Jane C. Figueiredo of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles revealed that men who take one milligram of folic acid more than twice a day over a period of ten years are more likely to suffer from prostate cancer.

This is because folic acid plays a role in cell division and growth thus any excess of folic acid in the body may trigger the growth of a tumor. In this study the participants consumed the folic acid as a supplement.

It is considered unlikely that a man would achieve these intake levels of folic acid unless he was taking dietary supplements.

Exposure to Harmful Substances

Individuals who are working as welders or in companies where battery or rubber is being manufactured and where exposure to cadmium occurs on a regular basis are also at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

What Are Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Are you a male experiencing urinary problems? Urinary problems among men should not be taken lightly as this is one of the common symptoms of prostate cancer.

Early diagnosis is critical, so here are some of the symptoms to look out for.

Urinary Problems

Since the prostate is situated close to the urethra and bladder, an individual who has prostate problems will most likely experience the following urinary problems.

  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Reduced force when passing urine
  • Increased frequency of urination, especially at night
  • Sudden urge to urinate and difficulty controlling it
  • Difficulty in starting the urinary system
  • Inability to empty the bladder, dribbling urine and a feeling of bladder fullness
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Decrease in velocity of urine stream
  • Blood in the urine

Sexual Function Problems

  • Pain and discomfort when ejaculating
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Blood in the semen

Physical Symptoms

  • Swelling in the pelvic area
  • Numbing sensation in the hips, feet and legs

If the cancer has caused a more advanced obstruction, the bladder can become infected and the person becomes at higher risk of suffering from recurring urinary tract infections.

Symptoms of Metastatic Prostate Cancer

If the cancerous prostate cells have spread to the nearby organs the person will find they begin experiencing fatigue and malaise. They will also start to lose weight.

If metastasis has reached the bones then deep bone pain in the lower back and hips can also be felt. Subsequently, cancerous cells will weaken the bones leading to bone fractures.

When Prostate Cancer Does NOT Obstruct the Urethra

Prostate cancer is a very slow progressing disease, so the person may not feel or notice any symptoms at all especially if it is still in the early stages. This is because the tumor is not big enough to obstruct the urethra.

Also, in a majority of prostate cancer cases it starts at the outer part of the prostate gland and away from the urethra.

When A Prostate Problem is Benign or Malignant

Whether the tumor that grows in the prostate is benign or malignant, it will cause similar symptoms. This is why it is very important that an individual consults a doctor and undergoes several tests to be able to have the most accurate diagnosis.

The sooner the cancer is detected, the easier it will be for the doctor and the patient to choose the most appropriate type of treatment. The success rate of any treatment will also be higher if the cancer is detected early.

Once diagnosed with prostate cancer many men feel their mortality. However early detection and treatment is vital for overcoming the problem. If you notice symptoms do something about it.

Life expectancy after diagnosis of prostate cancer

Research shows that 90% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are able to live for at least another five years and of that 63% live for more than ten years. If the prostate cancer is detected before it has spread to other organs the five year survival rate increases.

However, if it has already spread to other organs the chances of living for at least five years may also drop.

So take notice of your body and watch for any signs or symptoms described above.

Prostate cancer: Essential facts

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