Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. This disease affects the prostate, the gland located under the bladder and in front of the rectum. This gland helps produce semen and allows for sperm to move more effectively, along with several other functions. The cancer cells develop in the prostate and invade the healthy tissues and multiply at a rate much faster than regular cells.
Although this disease can be life-threatening and is a serious diagnosis to receive, many cases of prostate cancer spread slowly and may only require minimal treatment. When confined to the prostate gland, this disease can usually be treated effectively, making early detection crucial for handling prostate cancer.
Risks Factors of Prostate Cancer
The specific cause of prostate cancer is unknown, although it is believed to be a combination of hereditary, hormonal and environmental factors. Certain factors may cause individuals to be at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer, including:
- Men age 65 and older
- African-American men
- Family history of prostate cancer
- High fat diet and sugar intake
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Many patients with prostate cancer do not experience any noticeable symptoms while the disease is in its early stages. As the disease progresses, patients may experience:
- Trouble urinating
- Slowed urine stream
- Starting and stopping while urinating
- Blood in the urine
- Swelling in legs
- Bone pain
- Loss of appetite or weight
These symptoms are often not related to cancer, but to infections or other health problems. A patient should notify his doctor at the first sign of any symptoms.
Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer
In addition to a physical examination, there are several tests that doctors use to diagnose prostate cancer:
- Digital rectal exam
- Prostate specific antigen test or PSA
Treatment of Prostate Cancer
Treatment for prostate cancer is most successful when the disease is identified at an early stage, before it has spread to other areas. The best treatment method can vary depending on each patient's individual age, grade of the tumor, stage of the cancer and overall health. Options for treatment may include:
With an early diagnosis of prostate cancer, active surveillance may be suggested. During active surveillance, prostate cancer is carefully monitored for signs of progression.
Chemotherapy may be used to treat prostate cancer. Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the cells from dividing and the growth of the tumor.
Radiation therapy is an effective option for treating prostate cancer. Radiation is used to target the infected area of the prostate.
The hormone testosterone serves as the main fuel for prostate cancer cell growth. Hormone therapy is used to stop testosterone from being released or to prevent it from acting on the prostate cells.
Surgery may be recommended to treat severe cases of prostate cancer. The doctor removes the tumor through an open or laparoscopic procedure, which may include removing all or part of the prostate.
In some cases, doctors may prescribe a combination treatment plan, which uses several of the treatment options listed above.
Prevention of Prostate Cancer
While prostate cancer cannot be prevented, patients can reduce their risk of developing the disease by maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. Diet and lifestyle changes have also been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer development and progression, and can help men with prostate cancer live longer and more productive lives.