Prostate Cancer: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Prostate refers to the glandular organ in men that measures about 3 centimeters long. It is found at the neck of the bladder in front of the rectum. It is the one that produces the milky fluid added to the sperm that comes out during the time of ejaculation.
Prostate Cancer: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Prostate Cancer – Men’s Fear
Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer
5 New Vital Facts on Prostate Cancer
8 Things You Need to Know About Prostate Cancer

In older men, enlarged prostate is quite common. It is a noncancerous condition otherwise known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) that results in urinary symptoms. However, prostate cancer may occur when normal cells grow and multiply abnormally. When this happens, a tumor is formed. A tumor becomes cancerous if it invades other tissues and organs.

In the United States, it is the second most common form of cancer in men next to lung cancer. In 2009, 192,280 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer; out of them, roughly 27,300 will die from this disease. The number escalated to 217,730 new cases in 2010, out of which, 32,000 men are estimated to die.

The cause of this type of cancer is not known. However, experts point to hormonal, genetic, dietary, and environmental factors that are said to increase the risk of the development of prostate cancer. There is a strong link between age and this disease. Eighty percent of prostate cancer cases are in men who are older than 65 years old.

Race is also a factor. African Americans are 1.6 times more prone to prostate cancer than white men. Asians have the lowest risk of developing prostate cancer. These findings are backed up by scientific research although it’s not clear what biological basis accounts for this. It’s possible that environmental and dietary factors come into play.

Prostate cancer also has genetic origins. Men who have family members especially first degree relatives like father of brother that have prostate cancer are at great risk of developing this disease.

Another plausible cause is sexually transmitted infections. Those diagnosed with STDs have 1.4 times more susceptibility to prostate cancer than the general population. A diet rich in fat has also been said to increase the risk of this form of cancer along with exposure to certain chemicals such as cadmium.

Unfortunately, most prostate cancer cases exhibit no symptoms, especially those in early stages. Most prostate cancers are only discovered during regular health examination. Symptoms only appear when the tumor already causes urinary blockage at the urethra or bladder neck. These symptoms would include increase in urination frequency, urinary retention, pain while urinating, painful ejaculation, blood in the urine, and inability to have erection.

Medical Treatment
The method of treatment depends on the medical status, age, and gravity of cancer. Watchful waiting is the most common treatment option that involves close monitoring of the cancer progress. This is recommended since prostate cancer usually grows very slowly that most men diagnosed with this cancer can do well without undergoing any treatment for a certain period.

Watchful waiting doesn’t mean you’re not going to do anything about it. You’ll still visit your urologist for Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) measurements, imaging tests, digital rectal exam, and prostate biopsies. If the cancer progresses, the doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments: radical prostatectomy, radiation therapy, external-beam radiation therapy, and brachytherapy.

picture of man's prostate

Prostate Cancer is a slowly progressive adenocarcinoma of the prostate. It is most common in men older than 50 years of age. In fact, it is the third most common cause of death from cancer in men of all ages and is the most common cause of death from cancer in men older than 75 years of age. Prostatic cancer grows slowly and has a high survival rate if detected early. Early detection is important because it increases the chance of the patient to recover.

How It Spreads
Prostate Cancer depends on testosterone to grow. The cancer cells are usually slow growing and begin in the posterior (back) or lateral (side) part of the gland. The cancer spreads by one of three routes:

– If it spreads by local invasion, it will move into the bladder, seminal vesicles, or peritoneum.

– The cancer may also spread through the lymph system to the pelvic nodes and may travel as far as the supraclavicular nodes.

– The third route is through the vascular system to bones, lungs, and liver.

Prostate cancer is staged or graded based on the growth or spread.

Risk Factors
According to Sommers (Diseases and Disorders, p.127), possible etiologic factors for the development of Prostate Cancer are:

• Age – 50 yrs old and above (two-thirds of prostate cancer cases are found in 65 yrs old and above)

• Race – more common in African-American

• Nationality – most common in North America and northwestern Europe

• Family History – suggests an inherited or genetic factor

• Diet – increased intake of red meat or high-fat dairy products and fewer fruits and vegetables (most studies found no link between levels of calcium found in average diet to the development of prostate cancer)

• Exercise – A recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that men over age 65 who exercise vigorously had a lower rate of prostate cancer

• Vasectomy – Most recent studies however, have not found any increased risk among men who have had this operation

• Occupational exposure to cadmium (e.g., welding, electroplating, alkaline battery manufacturing)

• Unhealthy Lifestyle – drinking alcohol and smoking

According to the American Cancer Association, Symptoms are rare in the early stage (stage A) of prostate cancer.

Later stages (stages B and C) include symptoms of urinary obstruction, hematuria, and urinary retention. Hematuria may result if the cancer invades the urethra or bladder, or both.

In the advanced (metastatic) stage (stage D), symptoms may be bone pain in the back or hip, anemia, weakness, weight loss, and overall tiredness.

The definitive diagnosis can be made only by biopsy; however, tests may suggest the presence of prostate cancer.

A routine DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) of the prostate can be done, where the examiner looks for a hard lump or hardened lobe.

A blood test looking for high levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) or prostatic acid phosphates (PAP) is done to detect prostate cancer.

When there is a palpable tumor, the health care provider may order a transrectal ultrasound and biopsy to help confirm the diagnosis.

Bone scans and other tests may be ordered to determine if the cancer has spread outside the prostate gland.

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, there is no “one size fits all” treatment for prostate cancer. One must decide together with the physician so the treatment options will be presented and decided with respect to how well you can respond and tolerate with the treatments.

However, common treatment options are:

– medication

– surgery, such as TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate) or open prostatectomy

– combination of medication and radiation therapy

– brachytherapy

– hormone therapy

A radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate and seminal vesicles) remains the standard surgical procedure for patients who have early-stage, potentially curable disease and a life expectancy of 10 years or more. An Italian Study suggests that High Intensity Focused Ultrasound may also be a promising treatment for prostate cancer

Prevention is indeed better than cure. Since there are a few causes that are modifiable, prevention is then focused on diet and lifestyle modifications since studies have shown their effectiveness in decreasing the chance of developing cancer and slowing its progression, allowing men to have happy and better lives without frequent fears of this dreaded disease.

internal drawing of prostate

Prostate Cancer
Prostate is a gland in men that surrounds the urethra. It helps in the production of seminal fluid. Prostate Cancer is a cancer affecting this gland. But unlike other types of cancer, this one is not aggressive at all. In fact, it grows very slowly. If you catch it during an early stage, it’s safe to monitor the cancer through active surveillance and delay treatments until the cancer becomes serious and threatening.

Prostate cancer treatments include:
– surgery
– radiation
– hormone therapy

These treatments can have side effects such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

Symptoms of prostate cancer are not apparent during the early stage. But when they appear, symptoms would include urinary problems such as:
– not being able to urinate
– difficulty starting or stopping flow of urine
– urinating more often than normal
– having pain or burning sensation during urination
– difficulty having an erection
– blood in the urine or semen
– deep and frequent pain in the lower back, belly, pelvis or hip

Symptoms that indicate that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body include:
– weight loss
– bone pain
– feet and leg swelling

Risk Factors
Risk for prostate cancer is increased by the following factors:

• Age
Men who are older than 50 years old have heightened risk of prostate cancer. More than 60 percent of new prostate cancer cases are found in men who are older than 65. About 70 percent of cancer deaths occur in men older than 75.

• Family History
There is also bigger chance of developing this form of cancer if anyone in the family had it. The risk is doubled if your father or brother had this cancer. Men who have family history of prostate cancer should be regularly screened for it. Take note however that even if you don’t have family history, it’s still possible for you to develop it. Other than that, men whose families have genetic changes that cause breast cancer such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 are also at risk of prostate cancer.

• Race
African-American men and Jamaican men who come from African descent are at greater risk of getting the serious type of prostate cancer. It was discovered recently that a gene that occurs more often in African-American men elevate the risk of this cancer. Asian-American men are also more prone to this cancer than Asian men in Japan and China. This can be accounted to the high-fat diet in the Western countries.

• Diet
Speaking of food, what you eat can also affect your prostate cancer risk. It has been found that men who live in countries that eat red meat and fats more often are more susceptible to this form of cancer. Those who eat vegetables that are rich in lycopene, which is found in tomatoes and beets, are at less risk.

• Location
Some places in the world have low rates of prostate cancer. These include Japan and China. Japanese and Chinese men living in other countries where prostate cancer cases are high such as in the United States are at greater risk than those who live in their native countries.

Whether you’re at risk or not, it’s important to get regular screening for prostate cancer.

Pomegranate fruit which is good for prostate cancer

Worldwide, 16 million men have prostate cancer. In the United States, around 200,000 new prostate cancer cases are diagnosed every year. Not surprisingly, prostate cancer is the second most prevalent cancer type among American males. Although only 10% of prostate cancer patients die from the disease, the number is still high to make it the third leading cause of cancer–related deaths in the U.S. Because of this, efforts by scientists have been relentless to search for better understanding, treatment, and prevention of prostate cancer. Here are 5 of their recent discoveries which may prove helpful in dealing with this fatal disease.

1. Pomegranate Juice can fight prostate cancer.
The pomegranate fruit originated in Iran and India but is now widely grown in many parts of the world including the United States. It can be eaten raw, made into a jelly and even wine, and used for culinary purposes. But recently, another use for this fruit has been uncovered by a research team from the University of California Los Angeles campus: its juice can slow down the growth of prostate cancer cells.

The researchers had 50 subjects which they asked to drink one 8 ounce glass of pomegranate juice daily over a period of three years. These subjects are prostate cancer patients who have been treated with surgery and radiation. The results showed that after drinking pomegranate juice, the levels of Protein-Specific-Antigens (PSA) in their blood stabilized. The normalized PSA levels also remained stable four times longer than usual. The researchers said that this balanced level may contribute to delaying the spread of Prostate cancer cells in the body. Any means to control the extent of prostate cancer is critical because once the cancer cells proliferate to other parts of the body, the patient’s chances of survival is slim.

2. Too much milk can increase your prostate cancer risk.
As they say, anything excessive is harmful, even something as nutritious as milk. This is the conclusion of a Canadian study last year as published in the Prostate Journal and reported in the The study says that men who consume four 200 ml glasses of milk every day double their risk of developing prostate cancer. This is because milk has cow hormones similar to Growth Factor 1 which may nourish prostate cancer cells and therefore encourage their development.

3. If your index finger is longer than your ring finger, you’re less likely to get prostate cancer.
Yes, you can tell if you’re more predisposed to prostate cancer just by looking at your fingers. At least, that’s what the scientists at the University of Warwick and the Institute of Cancer in the U.K. reported in the British Journal of Cancer. From their research, they’ve found out that a man with a longer index finger than his ring finger will have 33% lower risk of developing prostate cancer than someone whose index finger is shorter than his ring finger or have index and ring fingers of the same length. If this man is less than 60 years of age then his chances of developing prostate cancer is lesser by 87%.

index finger shorter than ring finger, then you are less likely to get prostate finger

The research involved 500 prostate cancer patients and 3,000 health controls. The researchers said most of their subjects had shorter index fingers than their ring fingers and about one fifth had index and ring fingers of similar length.

The explanation for this, according to the researchers, is that babies in the womb are exposed to testosterone. The more exposure to testosterone, the shorter their index fingers will be. Hence, if they have longer index fingers, it means they have been less exposed to testosterone. This makes them more resistant against prostate cancer since testosterone is said to encourage growth of prostate cancer cells. The scientists added that the same genes in humans control finger length and the development of the reproductive system, of which the prostate gland is part.

Professor Ros Eeles, senior author of the report, said his team’s discovery can be used in making the selection of men for prostate cancer screening more accurate when used in combination with family history and age. This facilitates the detection of more prostate cases at a stage when they’re still treatable.

4. Hard exercise may help you survive prostate cancer.
If you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer and you exercise regularly and vigorously, you’ll slow down the progression of your disease and therefore prolong your life. This is the finding of a study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of California in San Francisco.

The said research is the first to examine the link of physical activity with the overall mortality of prostate cancer patients. It analyzed records of 2,705 men with prostate cancer who reported how much physical activity they did weekly. These activities included cycling, running, walking, etc. The researchers said any form of exercise of any difficulty and intensity can increase overall survival. However, they emphasized that those whose exercise routines are vigorous have greater chances to live by 61% than those with easier and less frequent exercise regimens. An exercise is vigorous if it is intense and performed at least three or more hours every week.

5. Prostate cancer can now be detected even in non-tumor tissues.
Less painstaking biopsy may now become possible. A new study determined that doctors need not hit a cancer tumor to find cancer cells. The results of the research published by the American Association of Cancer Research stated that gene changes were found in the surrounding tissues of tumors which may indicate presence of prostate cancer cells.

This is a good news to men who are required to undergo prostate biopsies because biopsy limited to the tumor can miss up to 30% of prostate cancers and are often repeated within the year due to unclear results. But with the option of analyzing the nearby tissues too, researchers said, diagnosis can be much more accurate thereby allowing patients to have earlier follow-up biopsies and choose alternative treatments.

The research led by Dr. Dan Mercola of the University of California at Irving examined 364 samples from men of all races that have or survived prostate cancer. He and his team however recommended that further studies should be done to confirm their findings. Once confirmed, their conclusions will also contribute to the better understanding of how cancer cells spread to other parts of the body.

location of prostate gland

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.

abnormal cells dividing too fast

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:

comparing normal and enlarged prostates

• 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

old couple happy after prostate examination

• 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.

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