Prostate Cancer (cont.)

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What are prostate cancer causes?

The cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but the cancer is not thought to be related to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The risk (predisposing) factors for prostate cancer include advancing age, genetics (heredity), hormonal influences, and such environmental factors as toxins, chemicals, and industrial products. The chances of developing prostate cancer increase with age. Thus, prostate cancer under age 40 is extremely rare, while it is common in men older than 80 years of age. As a matter of fact, some studies have suggested that among men over 80 years of age, 50%-80% of them may have prostate cancer cells present in the prostate gland. More than 80% of prostate cancers are diagnosed in men older than 65 years of age.

There are differences in diagnosis and death rates among different racial groups. These differences in diagnosis and death rates are, however, more likely to reflect a difference in factors such as environmental exposure, diet, lifestyle, and health-seeking behavior rather than any racial susceptibility to prostate cancer. Recent studies indicate that this disparity is progressively decreasing with chances of complete cure in men undergoing treatment for organ-confined prostate cancer (cancer that is limited to within the prostate without spread outside the confines of the prostate gland), irrespective of race.

Genetics (heredity), as just mentioned, plays a role in the risk of developing a prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is more common among family members of individuals with prostate cancer.

Testosterone, the male hormone produced by the testicles, directly stimulates the growth of both normal prostate tissue and prostate cancer cells. Therefore, this hormone is thought to be involved in the development and growth of prostate cancer. The important implication of the role of this hormone is that decreasing the level of testosterone should be (and usually is) effective in inhibiting the growth of prostate cancer.

The roles of environment, nationality, diet, smoking, and obesity as risk factors for prostate cancer are being explored, but links have not been proven.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2013

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