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Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system.
As the name suggests, prostate cancer develops from cells of the prostate gland. The prostate gland is located in the pelvis, below the bladder, above the urethral sphincter and the penis, and in front of the rectum in men. The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut. It is made up of glandular tissue and muscle fibers that surround a portion of the urethra. It is found only in men, and produces some of the seminal fluid, which protects and nourishes sperm cells. Most prostate cancers grow very slowly and never cause symptoms or spread.
As prostate cancer grows, it may spread to the interior of the gland, to tissues near the prostate, to sac-like structures attached to the prostate (seminal vesicles), and to distant parts of the body (e.g., bones, liver, and lungs). Prostate cancer confined to the gland often is treated successfully.
Recurrent Prostate Cancer
Recurrent prostate cancer is cancer that has recurred (come back) after it has been treated. Recurrent prostate cancer may come back in the prostate or in another part of the body.
Types of Prostate Cancer
Prostate tissues contain several types of cells. Cancer can develop in each of these different types of tissues, but the most common form of prostate cancer develops within the glandular cells. This type of cancer is known in medical terms as adenocarcinoma. Usually, adenocarcinoma develops at the surface of the prostate and can be easily detected trough a digital rectal examination.
There are two other forms of prostate cancer i.e. Leiomyosarcoma and Rhabdomyosarcoma that are rarer and develop in the surrounding tissues of the gland.
Causes & Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer, affecting 1 in 6 men. The older you are, the more likely you are to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Besides being male, there are other factors, such as age, race, and family history that may contribute to the risk.
Some research suggests that high levels of testosterone may increase a man's risk of prostate cancer. The difference between racial groups in prostate cancer risk could be related to high testosterone levels, but it also could result from diet or other lifestyle factors.
These causes or risk factors of prostate cancer include:
Signs & Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
When prostate cancer is in the early stages, there are no noticeable symptoms. However, there are men that can experience symptoms that might indicate the presence of prostate cancer. But prostate cancer can cause any of these problems:
Any of these symptoms may be caused by cancer or by other, less serious health problems, such as BPH or an infection. A man who has symptoms like these should see his doctor or an urologist.
Complications of Prostate Cancer
Complications from prostate cancer are related to both the disease and its treatment. One of the biggest fears of many men who have prostate cancer is that treatment may leave them incontinent or impotent.
The typical complications of prostate cancer and its treatments include:
Stages of Prostate Cancer
Once prostate cancer has been diagnosed, more tests are done to find out the size and location of the cancer, and if the cancer has metastasized (spread) beyond the prostate. This process is called staging. Knowing the stage of the cancer is important for planning the right treatment.
Several systems are used to stage prostate cancer. The most common are the ABCD system and the TNM system.
The most widely used system in the United States for staging prostate cancer is called the TNM System. It describes the extent of the primary tumor (T stage), the absence or presence of spread to nearby lymph nodes (N stage) and the absence or presence of distant spread, or metastasis (M stage) to other areas of the body.
The TNM system is more specific in how it categorizes prostate cancer and is more widely used.
T = Tumor size
N = Nodes (extend of spread to the lymph nodes)
M = Metastasis (extent of spread to other parts of the body)
Diagnosis & Medical Tests of Prostate Cancer
Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer
Tests of Prostate Cancer
Myths about Prostate Cancer
A lot of people think that they know at least the basics about prostate cancer, and some people believe that they really have the essentials of prostate cancer down - even though they're not doctors or cancer experts. But people's beliefs about prostate cancer and cancer in general, are often flat out wrong. Check out the following myths about prostate cancer and the accompanying facts
Myth: Prostate cancer is solely an elderly man's disease
Fact: The reality is that older men do have a greater risk for prostate cancer, but younger men can also develop the disease.
Myth: If you have cancer, you'll know because of the symptoms
Fact: Some forms of early cancer have symptoms, but prostate cancer, especially in its early stages, usually has no symptoms at all.
Myth: Nobody dies of prostate cancer
Fact: It's the second leading cancer killer for men
Myth: Surgery or Radiation is always best treatment
Fact: To determine which treatment is best, each individual situation needs to be considered, including the man's age, how advanced his cancer is, his attitude about side effects and quality of life issues, and other factors.
Myth: Patients of Prostate cancer become permanently disabled
Fact: Many men continue to work after being treated for prostate cancer, while some take four to six weeks off (or longer) to recover from surgery or other treatments.
Myth: Impotence always follows Treatment
Fact: Half of all men who receive treatment for prostate cancer will experience some impotence, even though this is temporarily. However, some men have few or no problems.
Treatments of Prostate Cancer
Once prostate cancer is diagnosed, the next step is a treatment plan. The prostate cancer treatment is established according to several factors such as: the cancer stage and grade, the patient's age and expected life span, and the general health state. Prostate cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, occasionally chemotherapy, proton therapy, or some combination of these.
There are two main types of cancer treatment:
Surgery: This is a local type of therapy and is recommended in early stages of cancer that can remove the whole prostate, prostatectomy, or part of the prostate transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). There are three types of prostatectomies:
Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is a type of surgery that is a palliative treatment approach (relieves the symptoms, but does not cure). This surgery is usually performed for those patients that have urinary problems (the urine flow is blocked by the size of the tumor).
Radiotherapy is another local type of cancer treatment that uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancerous cells. It is used as a treatment option for early stages of cancer, and for advanced stages of cancer
Chemotherapy is not a common treatment option for prostate cancer. However, it is used for advanced forms or recurrent cancer that did not respond to other types of treatment.
Hormone therapy is also known as androgen deprivation or suppression therapy and focuses on reducing the level of male hormones in the body. The majority of prostate cancer cases are hormone sensitive because tumors require male hormones to grow. A reduced level of androgen (male hormone) causes the prostate to shrink and have a slower growth process. This type of treatment is effective in treating early cancer stages and high grade tumors.
When to seek medical advice
If you have difficulties with urination, see your doctor. This condition doesn't always relate to prostate cancer, but it can be a sign of prostate-related problems.
If you're a man older than 50, you may want to see your doctor to discuss beginning prostate cancer screening.
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