Prostate Cancer

The prostate gland weighs a little less than 1.05 ounces. It is the size of the walnut and produces minerals and sugar that are found in the semen. Helping control the expulsion of urination is another function of this gland. With age, the size of the gland generally increases. This hormone-triggered growth is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). When the cells of this gland grow abnormally, a region of a malignant tumor is created. This is termed prostate cancer.

In some people, the tumor grows only little by little and the disease is not apparent until after a long period has passed. However, there are other types of this cancer that spread rapidly and invade other organs, besides shortening the lifespan of the victim. The extent of aggressive growth of the disease is called as Gleason score. This score is arrived upon after biopsy of the prostate specimen.

Prevalence Of Prostate Cancer

It is the second most common cancer that leads to death in the US for men. Because of its prevalence, some health care professionals advise periodic screening for prostate cancer for men who are above 40 years old. It is seen that 8 out of 10 men who have prostate cancer are above 65 years of age. African American men are at a higher risk for the disease than white Americans.

Causes Of prostrate Cancer

  1. Age: the risk for the disease increases as a man grows older
  2. Hereditary factors
  3. Lifestyle and diet: Obesity and cigarette smoking both tend to increase the risk for cancer.
  4. Men with sexually transmitted problems are at a higher risk for prostate cancer
  5. Hormonal imbalance or abnormality
  6. Repeated and frequent exposure to an environment that increases the risk for the disease like harmful toxins, industrial products, and by-products
  7. Testosterone, hormones produced by testicles in men, can help produce both normal and cancerous prostate tissue and cells.


Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

In most cases, symptoms are not apparent for years together. The cancer is usually first identified when abnormalities are seen in blood tests. Other symptoms are

1.    Rectal examination that shows a hard nodule or a lump in the gland

2.    If the problem invades other regions, like the urethra, then the urine flow may be affected. This, however, is not a common occurrence

3.    Blood in the urine

4.    Irritation felt while passing urine

5.    Pain in the hips and the back, when the disease starts invading other organs

6.    If the problem spreads to other regions then a person feels
a).      Nausea
b).      Unexplained weight loss
c).      Exhaustion

7.    Jaundice, if cancer has reached the liver region

8.    When the disease spreads to the lungs, it causes fits of coughing and pain in the chest area

Prostate cancer is diagnosed by a PSA blood test (prostate-specific antigen) and a digital (testing with fingers) rectal examination.

Treatment Of prostrate Cancer

Treatment for this ailment will depend on the following factors

  1. How far cancer has progressed
  2. Is it confined to the prostate gland alone
  3. The age and health issues of the person affected
  4.  If the cancer is metastatic, then how far has it spread

 Treatment options  For prostrate Cancer

  1. Radiation therapy
  2. Cryotherapy
  3. Hormonal therapy
  4. Chemotherapy
  5. A combination of the above treatments’ advanced stages is opted for. As the advanced stage of this disease is incurable, doctors aim to basically reduce symptoms and retard the progress of the cancer
  6. Surgery, known as radical prostatectomy, involves the removal of the entire prostate gland.

Though treatment options are more need-based and sophisticated than what it was a decade ago, they have to be weighed carefully as treatment validating data available is insufficient. 

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