Who’s scared of Prostate Cancer? Perhaps, every human male alive. It’s not a baseless fear. One in six men will develop prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. True enough, over 186,000 adult American males are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. This makes prostate cancer the second most common cancer type among males in the U.S., next to skin cancer.
Luckily, prostate cancer is treatable if detected early. In fact, only 1 out of 34 prostate cancer patients die of the disease. The earlier prostate cancer is identified, the better the chance that the patient will survive it. It is therefore crucial for all living males to know more about this condition if they are to prevent it from occurring or getting worse.
This article enumerates the basic facts on Prostate Cancer. Read on, assuage your fears, and become able to take better care of your health.
1. Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal cells invade the prostate.
Your normal cells grow and replicate at a steady rate to maintain proper functioning of your body. At times, however, there exist abnormal cells that multiply at uncontrollable pace. As the result, they form tumors which are either cancerous (malignant) or not (benign). Malignant tumor cells use up the nutrients intended for the healthy cells of the body organ they invaded. The healthy cells are starved to death, impairing the affected body organ.
Prostate cancer happens when these malignant cells grow on the tissue of the prostate. The prostate is a gland of male reproductive system and is the size of a large walnut. It is found in front of the rectum, under the bladder, and around the urethra, the tube through which urine is excreted. The prostate produces seminal fluid or the liquid that carries the sperm out of the man’s body as semen.
2. Prostate cancer can spread to other body parts.
Prostate cancer does not only damage the prostate. Prostate cancer cells have the tendency to break away from the malignant tumor. They enter the bloodstream or the lymphatic vessels and then reach, settle, proliferate, and destroy other body organs like the bones, liver, and brain. This process is called metastasis and when this takes place, the prostate cancer is termed metastatic prostate cancer.
3. Prostate cancer cause is unknown but there are risk factors linked to it.
Why prostate cancer happens and why it occurs in some men and not in others are yet to be determined. However, experts have recognized factors that may predispose a man to prostate cancer. Through various studies they derived that a man is more likely to develop prostate cancer if he is:
• 65 years old and older
• with a close family member that had prostate cancer
• African American
• an eater of mostly fatty foods
4. Prostate cancer may or may not be manifested.
Most men with prostate cancer do not manifest symptoms especially in the early stages. But some do, particularly if the cancer is untreated. If these symptoms are exhibited, it is best to consult a doctor to know if they are really caused by prostate cancer or by other benign conditions such as enlargement of the prostate.
If you have prostate cancer, it is possible for you to experience the following:
• inability to urinate
• difficulty in controlling the flow of urine
• frequent nocturnal urination
• weak or interrupted urine flow
• painful urination
• bloody urine or semen
• difficulty in having erection
• pain when ejaculating
• tenderness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
5. Prostate cancer can be diagnosed through several ways.
You don’t have to wait for the symptoms to know if you have prostate cancer. Your doctor may ask you to undergo one or more of these procedures to determine whether you have the disease or not:
• Digital (finger) Rectal Exam: since the prostate is located just in front of the rectum, the doctor can feel through the rectal wall if there are possible cancerous lumps on the prostate
• Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test: high levels of antigen may indicate not only prostate cancer but also enlarged prostate and prostate infection so this is inconclusive when used alone as a basis
• Ultrasound and X-rays: may show cancer that may have been missed by the first two screening tests
• Biopsy: if a lump is located on the prostate, the doctor gets a small tissue sample from it through needles; the sample tissue is examined under a microscope to know if it has cancer cells
6. Prostate cancer has several stages.
After a patient is diagnosed with prostate cancer, the doctor will next find out at what stage the cancer has progressed to know which treatment is appropriate. As previously stated, the earlier the stage of prostate cancer, the better is its prognosis. Further imaging tests are performed for more accuracy such as CT scans, Bone scans, and MRI.
Below are the stages used to describe prostate cancer:
• Stage I: Cancerous tumor is too small to be detected through a rectal exam and has not spread outside the prostate. There are no symptoms.
• Stage II: Tumor can be felt through a rectal exam and is still within the prostate but affects more tissue.
• Stage III: Tumor has proliferated outside the prostate to nearby tissues. Symptoms maybe manifested.
• Stage IV: Cancer has extended to the lymph nodes or to other body organs like the bones. Symptoms are definitely manifested.
7. Prostate cancer can be treated.
If caught early, ninety percent of prostate cancer cases can be cured through prostate cancer treatments currently available. Treatment depends on the patient’s age, stage of cancer, symptoms, and general health. The following are the procedures being used today to treat prostate cancer:
• Active surveillance or watchful waiting, where:
– prostate cancer is carefully monitored
– it’s for men with early stage prostate cancer, older men, and those with other critical health conditions
– if symptoms appear or worsen, active treatment will be applied
• Surgery: performed to remove the cancer, where:
– it’s often in early stage prostate cancer
– either the whole prostate or a part of it may be taken out
– side effects may include impotence and incontinence
• Radiation therapy: cancer cells are destroyed with radiation, where:
– this maybe used to relieve pain
– side effects may include impotence and irregular bowel movement
• Hormonal therapy: drugs can be used to block hormones needed by the cancer to thrive, where:
– this may also involve removal of the testicles
– risks are impotence, loss of sexual desire, weakening of bones, and hot flashes
• Chemotherapy: alternative when hormonal therapy is no longer effective, where:
– drugs are used to kill cancer cells
– side effects may include hair loss, weakened resistance, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and easy fatigability
• Cryotherapy: cancer cells are killed through freezing, where:
– this is effective in treating small areas of cancer
– risks include bladder injury and temporary inflammation of the penis and scrotum
8. Prostate cancer can be prevented.
As they say, prevention is better than cure. Here’s how:
• Get screened: Undergo digital rectal exam once or twice a year once you reach 40 years of age and yearly PSA blood test as soon as you’re 50 years old.
• Hydrate: Drink lots of water to regularly clean the bladder.
• Get moving: Exercise regularly. Lose weight as necessary. Obesity might affect levels of hormones linked to prostate cancer and thereby increase the risk for it.
• Eat healthy: Add more fish oil and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower in your diet as they contain natural elements that fight prostate cancer such as Omega 3 and phytochemicals. Avoid too much fat.
• Lay off the bottle: Research says too much alcohol increases risk of prostate cancer. Consume no more than two drinks per day.
• Drink Green tea: Green tea contains anti-oxidants that fight cancer.
• Let the sunshine in: Studies suggest that Vitamin D decreases prostate cancer risk. Expose yourself to morning sunlight. Eat foods with Vitamin D like cheese and egg yolk.