Prostate cancer is a type of cancer which affects thousands of middle-aged or older males every year, with 60 percent of affected males being 65 years or older in age.
Where is the prostate gland?
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized gland found in the lower abdomen between the bladder and the penis, with the urethra running through the center of it. This gland is regulated by the male hormone, testosterone, and its function is to produce semen.
When does prostate cancer start?
Like any form of cancer, prostate cancer starts when cells in the prostate gland grow out of control. If left untreated, the cancerous cells then spread to other parts of the body. Since the cancer consists of cells initially from the prostate, it is called prostate cancer.
Two types of prostate cancer
There are different types of prostate cancer, but nearly 99 percent of prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas which develop in the gland cells.
Prostate cancer is categorized by its rate of growth in the individual:
- aggressive prostate cancer: fast spreading. This type of cancer is where the tumor or tumors rapidly grow and may spread to other parts of the body.
- non-aggressive prostate cancer: this type of cancer either doesn’t grow or grows very slowly over time.
Causes and risks of prostate cancer
Causes of any type of cancer are unknown, but they have been found to be closely linked to a few factors, i.e., family history, smoking, or environment (e.g., long-term exposure to certain chemicals).
Certain factors do raise the risk of getting prostate cancer, which can include:
- age: the risk of getting prostate cancer increases with age
- diet: a diet consisting of a high percentage of saturated fat
- ethnicities or race
- family history
- genetic changes
- PIN: a condition where the prostate gland cells look abnormal, which may increase the risk of prostate cancer
- Genes: certain genes, e.g., BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, are known to increase the risk of prostate cancer
Symptoms to be on the look-out for
Non-aggressive prostate cancer may not display any symptoms. Aggressive prostate cancer often has the following symptoms:
- blood in the semen
- blood in the urine
- burning sensation during urination
- decreased flow of urine
- difficulty urinating
- ED (impotence) or painful ejaculation
- frequent trips to the toilet at night
- incontinence (loss of bladder control)
If you do have any of the above symptoms, consult your doctor straightaway for proper diagnosis. It may not be prostate cancer, but another medical condition that can be treated accordingly.
When pain and numbness is experienced in other parts of the body, it could mean the cancer has spread, with pain normally felt in the following areas:
- pelvic area
If there is loss of feeling in the legs and bladder, it could mean the cancer has spread to the spinal cord. However, urinary symptoms are the most likely to appear first. Blood in the urine may be related to another medical issue, but this needs proper medical diagnosis.
Stages of prostate cancer
Prostate cancer ranges from stage 1 to 4, with stages 3 and 4 being very advanced stages. The staging system is based on a number of factors, e.g.:
- the size and extent of the tumor,
- whether and the number of lymph nodes affected
- whether the cancer has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body
Your doctor or oncologist will prepare a treatment program suited for you, after the necessary diagnostic tests have been conducted. The treatment program will be based according to your age, current health status including current medical issues, and the stage of your cancer.
For non-aggressive cancer, your oncologist may suggest active surveillance which means you will have regular check-ups to monitor the cancer.
For aggressive prostate cancer and depending on the stage of your cancer, your oncologist may suggest options such as:
- chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or a combination of both
- hormone therapy
- other forms of treatment
Prostate cancer survival rate
If prostate cancer is diagnosed and treated early before the tumor spreads, without other complications, the survival rate is normally good.
Prevention of prostate cancer
While any form of cancer cannot be prevented, you can lower your risk of getting it by making certain lifestyle changes, for example:
- Incorporating certain foods into your diet, such as leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, fish and olive oil (both are rich in omega-3 fatty acids), and soy.
- Avoiding saturated fat (found in animal products), red meat, milk and dairy products, grilled meats.
- Exercising can help reduce weight and lower your obesity rate.
This article is meant to provide a general outline on prostate cancer, and is in no way to be taken as medical advice. Do consult a doctor or oncologist for further advice if you feel you may have any of the symptoms mentioned above. If you don’t have any of the symptoms, making some healthy lifestyle changes can decrease your risk of getting cancer and make you a healthier person!
10th August 19:50 2020