- What Is It?
- 5 Warning Signs
- Survival Rate
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer affects the prostate glands of men. Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths for men in the United States.
The prostate is a small organ that lies below the urinary bladder and in front of the rectum (part of the large intestine). In men, it is normal for the size of the prostate to increase with age. In younger men, it is about the size of a walnut. The prostate makes a milky fluid, which is a part of semen. This fluid feeds the sperm.
Growth in the prostate can be of two types:
- Benign growths: These are noncancerous growths and rarely a threat to life e.g., benign prostatic hyperplasia.
- Malignant growths: These are cancerous growths that can be life-threatening.
Prostate cancer starts in the prostate gland and may spread to other organs.
What causes prostate cancer?
The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown. One in three men older than 50 years has some cancer cells in the prostate. Luckily, eight out of 10 tumors are found to be small and harmless after the biopsy. Although the reason for prostate cancer is unknown, there are many risk factors that increase the risk of prostate cancer:
- Age over 55 (peak age 65-74) years
- Ethnicity: Common in blacks as compared to Caucasians.
- Genetic/family history
- Poor dietary habits: High fat, unhealthy diet
- Cigarette smoking
- Alcohol intake
- Lack of exercise
- Hormonal causes
What are the 5 warning signs of prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer rarely produces symptoms in the early stage; however, few signs can help in detecting prostate cancer. Five potential warning signs of prostate cancer are:
- Bone pain (due to spread)
- Symptoms from compression of the spine
- Painful urination or ejaculation
- Sudden erectile dysfunction (trouble in getting an erection)
- Blood in urine or semen
What are the other symptoms of prostate cancer?
Other symptoms of prostate cancer are:
- Weight loss
- Frequent urination particularly at night
- Loss of bladder control
- Weak urine flow
- Dull pain in the lower pelvic area
- Pain in the lower back, hips, or thighs
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Bone pain
- Pain and edema in the legs and feet
- Neurologic deficit (an altered function of a body area)
- Loss of bowel control
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
Screening asymptomatic men helps identify early prostate cancer. Screening is recommended in men:
- Who are between 55 and 69 years of age
- Who is African American
- Who have a family history of prostate cancer
Screening methods include:
- Digital rectal examination (DRE) helps to find prostate problems
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA): Increased PSA levels in the blood can sometimes indicate prostate cancer.
- A definite diagnosis is based on the biopsy of the prostate tissue.
- Magnetic resonance imaging studies and imaging tests may be used to assess the distant spread (metastasis).
How is prostate cancer treated?
The treatment plan for prostate cancer depends on the following factors:
- The stage and grade of cancer
- Age and health
- Risk category
- Patient values and preferences
- Life expectancy
Treatment choices for prostate cancer involve:
- Active surveillance: Monitoring cancer closely by carrying out PSA and DRE examination
- Watchful waiting: Relies mainly on the changing symptoms in men
- Localized therapy
- Surgery involves the removal of the prostate gland (prostatectomy)
- Radiation therapy
- Cryotherapy is the use of very cold temperatures to freeze and kill the cancerous cells
- Focal therapy
- Drug therapies that spread throughout the body to destroy cancer cells involve:
- Hormonal therapy
What is the survival rate for prostate cancer?
Most of the men diagnosed with prostate cancer will not die from it. Other medical conditions along with prostate cancer can cause death.
Survival rates for men with prostate cancer have increased over the years due to increased screening and treatment options.
- Ninety-nine percent of men with prostate cancer will survive for a minimum of five years after diagnosis.
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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer.
- Risk factors include age, family history, ethnicity, and diet.
- Prostate cancer is diagnosed by a digital rectal exam, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, and prostate biopsy.
- Symptoms may include
- frequent need to urinate,
- incontinence, pain,
- blood in the urine,
- fatigue, and more.
- Prognosis and treatment depend on cancer staging.
- Watchful waiting,
- cryotherapy, and
- other management strategies are available.
- Research and clinical trials strive to find new and better treatments for prostate cancer.
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