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Prostate Cancer : Causes & Symptoms

Prostate Cancer : Causes & Symptoms
  • Jan 11
  • Oncology

Overview

The prostate gland is a walnut-sized gland and an integral part of the men’s reproductive system. Located directly under the bladder, the prostate plays an important role in the urine control and erectile function.Prostate cancer develops when the abnormal cells within the prostate gland become malignant thus forming a tumor.  As compared to other types of cancer, prostate cancer is said to grow at a relatively slower pace. In addition, there are three distinct types of prostate cancer:

  • Early or Localised prostate cancer – where the cancer is contained within the prostate gland and has not spread to other parts of the body.
  • Extracapsular prostate cancer – where the cancer has spread to the tissues surrounding the prostate gland.
  • Metastatic prostate cancer – in cases where the cancer cells spread to the various parts of the body

The occurrence of prostate cancer is very high in men with as many as 1 in 7 men developing it at some stage or the other during their lifetime. As a matter of fact, over the years the frequency of prostate cancer has increased owing to increased life expectancy rates. This coupled with the fact that 80 percent of all prostate cancer cases are prevalent in men 65 years of age (or older). As per The American Cancer Society, this form of cancer is the most common cancer in men while ranking seventh as the leading cause responsible for male cancer deaths.  Moreover, despite being highly treatable, far too many men suffer needlessly from prostate cancer because they failed to identify the symptoms early on or lacked the knowledge to prevent it.

Symptoms

In most cases, prostate cancer tends to stay dormant for the longest time. Studies have revealed that only in a small minority of cases do they go on to develop actively into cancer thereby putting pressure on the urethra thus resulting in a gamut of health issues.

  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Erectile dysfunction or difficulties in sustaining/getting an erection
  • Urinary incontinence or loss of bladder control
  • Unexplained weight loss and fatigue
  • Presence of blood in the semen or while urinating
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Feeling that the bladder is not completely empty
  • Weak flow or decreased velocity of the urine stream
  • A significant decrease in the amount of semen ejaculated
  • A feeling of pressure and/or pain in the rectum
  • A lingering bone pain that’s always present or leads to fractures
  • Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or upper thighs
  • A feeling of numbness or pain especially in the legs or feet
  • Difficulty urinating or holding back urination
  • A need to urinate frequently or more frequent urges to urinate especially at night

One should always keep in mind that these urinary symptoms aren’t always indicative of prostate cancer. There are other disorders or diseases which could display similar symptoms which is why one should always speak to their health care professional for an accurate diagnosis of the same.

Causes / Risk Factors

There is a range of factors that can increase the risk of prostate cancer. These are as listed below:

  • Studies have revealed that incidences of prostate cancer are 70 percent more prevalent in African American men as compared to Caucasian or Hispanic men.
  • Age is another factor which plays a role as the chances of men developing prostate cancer is directly correlated with increasing age. The risk of being diagnosed with the disease increases rapidly after 50 years of age.
  • In cases where there’s a family history of prostate, breast or ovarian cancer, men are twice as likely to develop the disease.
  • Individuals consuming a diet high in saturated fats and low in fresh fruit and vegetables are more prone to getting prostate cancer.
  • Research has shown that prostate cancer has an association with high testosterone levels as an increase in testosterone is known to stimulate the growth of the prostate gland.
  • An inherited gene such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have known to have contributed to cancer’s development.
  • There have also been reports that there might be a direct correlation with individuals who suffer from Prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia.
  • Men who smoke incessantly are said to be at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
  • There have also been instanced of men getting prostate cancer after being exposed to certain harmful chemicals and radiation

 

Treatment

 

It must be said that it’s difficult for doctors to determine with sufficient accuracy how threatening the prostate cancer is early on. However, with early detection and treatment, one can significantly boost their chances of surviving prostate cancer. Common diagnostic tests for prostate cancer include

 

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) – this test is to determine the levels of PSA – a protein produced by the prostate gland – in the bloodstream. High levels of this protein are indicative of prostate cancer.
  • Digital Rectal Examination
  • Transrectal ultrasound biopsy (TRUS)
  • Screening tests such as X-rays, CT/MRI, and Bone Scans

 

Based on the diagnostic results, a treatment plan will be tailored for the individual. Factors such as age, symptoms, level/stage of cancer, will also be taken into account while determining the best possible treatment alternatives. The possible treatment choices include:

  • Staging
  • Watchful waiting
  • Surgery
  • Radiotherapy
  • Hormonal treatment or Androgen deprivation therapy
  • Chemotherapy

In addition, doctors might also recommend the affected individual to make certain lifestyle changes. Accordingly, a higher intake of green leafy vegetables and fruits will be recommended. Doctors will also advise to cut down on meat consumption and saturated fats. Other lifestyle changes including quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol consumption, incorporating a regular exercise routine will also be suggested to improve health and reduce general cancer risk.

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