Prostate cancer is the most common malignant tumor in men. Malignant means the cancer can spread to other parts of body. It is the second most common cause of cancer deaths among men in USA. Prostate cancer usually develops after the age of 50 in men. The incidence increases with growing age. In its early stage, prostate cancer is asymptomatic. Symptoms usually develop in the advanced stage, caused by metastatic tumor. Over 99 percent of prostate cancers are adenocarcinoma derived from epithelial cell of prostate gland.
Prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer.If prostate cancer is detected early, the chances of survival increase after the treatment. Blood PSA (prostate specific antigen) test is the most sensitive test for early detection of prostate cancer. Hence it is advisable for all men to do PSA blood test once in a year after the age of 50. Treatment consists of surgery followed by radiation and/or chemotherapy.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Prostate Cancer
Cancer is a type of ailment in which body cells mutate and multiply uncontrollably, eventually leading to several complications and health issues. Prostate cancer is malignant cancer, which means it can spread to other parts of the body.Just like any other malignancy, the cause of prostate cancer is not known. However, researchers suspect many factors may be involved in producing it.
Mutation in the genes or the DNA is the prime suspect for development of malignancy. Mutation of DNA and genes triggers exceptional and uncontrolled growth of certain type of prostate cells. The uncontrolled growth results in development of a tumor. If the cancer is aggressive, the cells can infiltrate other sites and start developing tumor in those organs. This process is called metastases. The risks of prostate cancer are:
- Age: This cancer usually develops after the age of 50. It is rare in young adults.
- Family history: In some cases the disease can be inherited. If a man’s father or the brother has prostate cancer, than he has twice the risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Race: Certain ethnicity and race is known to have more risk. For example prostate cancer has low incidence in Asian people. But the ratio is high in Afro-American men.
- Diet: Diet has some connection with prostate cancer. Diet rich in red meat and dairy fats increases the risk of prostate cancer.
- Lifestyle: Cigarette smoking, obesity, living sedentary life, is known to increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Signs And Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer
Majority of patients have no symptoms in the early stage of prostate cancer as it is a slow growing cancer. The symptoms usually manifest when the cancer is advanced locally or has metastasized. Usually one or more of these symptoms develop.
- Burning and pain while passing urine.
- Increased frequency of urination.
- Intense urge to urinate.
- Difficulty during the starting and stopping of urine flow.
- Retention of urine.
- Constant sense of incomplete emptying of the bladder.
- Blood passed in urine. The urine color appears red.
- Pain during ejaculation.
- Difficulty in maintaining erection.
When prostate cancer has advanced and metastasized, it may present with spinal cord compression due to spread of the tumor in vertebra. This may give rise to bone pain in spine, pelvis and ribs. It may cause weakness in legs due to deep vein thrombosis and compression of the spinal cord. Loss of urine and stool control can occur when cancer spreads into the spine and compresses the spinal cord.
Digital rectal examination (DRE) is essential for preliminary diagnosis together with PSA blood test. During the DRE, the doctor is able to feel the hard, nodular and irregular surface of the prostate, which is characteristic feature of some prostate pathology.
Treatment Options For Prostate Cancer
Once prostate cancer is diagnosed surgical removal of prostate is the oldest treatment which doctors still follow. Treatment also depends on the stage of cancer. In advanced stage radiation and or chemotherapy is given to the patient. The growth of normal prostate depends on androgen hormone. Therefore in advanced cases, testis is also surgically removed to reduce the level of testosterone in the blood. Radiation is also given to reduce bone pains in cases where the cancer has spread to the bones.
Majority of men where prostate cancer has not spread to other sites have better survival outlook after the treatment. Early diagnosis is the key for curing the condition. Therefore all men after the age of 50 should do PSA test at least once in year.