The prostate, an organ found only in the reproductive system of males, is a tiny gland that resembles the shape of a walnut. It is the one responsible for semen production that is responsible for lubrication. The attack of malignant or cancerous cells in this part of the body is called the prostate cancer. The occurrence of this condition has been rising fast nowadays though its survival rate is relatively high compared to other cancers provided that it is detected as early as possible. Though prostate cancer is life-threatening, the patient usually becomes impotent when the cancer is in remission.
What Are The Common Symptoms?
There will not likely be any symptoms present during the early part of the cancer. For this reason, it is extremely vital to undergo regular check up since it helps in early diagnosis of the condition.
During the progression of the cancer, the patient would most likely probably all of the symptoms below:
- A general feeling of being ill
- Dysuria (pain during urination)
- Uncontrollable urge to urinate
- A weakened urinary system function
- Intermittent flow of urine
- Weight loss partially caused by loss of appetite
- Pelvic region pain
- The inability to empty the bladder
- Persistent and unbearable bone pain
- Difficulty starting a urine stream
- Nocturnal polyuria (needing to repeatedly get up at night just to urinate)
- Hip, lower back, and upper thigh pain
What Are The Known Causes?
The root cause of cancer is the abnormal multiplication and development of unhealthy cells that do not follow the normal life cellular life cycle. Cancer cells also multiply 3 or 4 times faster than the normal cells and instead of dying out, they crowd out other normal cells to form a tumor.
What makes prostate cancer somewhat different from other cancers is its risk factors. It can not be directly linked to heritage, environmental factors, and other common causative agents. It could be true that diet plays a role in causing prostate cancer but studies show that it also is not a definitive way of diagnosing it. Therefore, the number of accurate risk factors for prostate cancer are not that many. In the first place, the specific cause of prostate cancer still has not been determined.
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
Statistically, a huge chunk of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed when a person reaches the age of 50 or higher. There have been evidences that help prove that prostate cancer runs in the family. Also, the disease is said to be more common among African-American males than among other races. Other factors that are said to contribute to prostate cancer are obesity, diet high in saturated fat, previous vasectomy or any other sterility surgeries, and very high levels of testosterone. However, none of these have been proven to be definitive risk factors to the disease.
When a man reaches the age of 45, it is strongly recommended that prostate examination should be done annually. An annual exam should start before the individual reaches 45 years for those who have a family member who is suffering or has suffered from prostate cancer. This is to ensure the earliest possible period of detection in order for treatment will begin immediately - increasing the chances of survival and full recovery.
To accurately diagnose prostate cancer, the following diagnostic exams are done in this particular order (assuming that the prostate examination has repeatedly been conducted):
- Rectal Exam
- Prostate specific antigen blood test
- Transrectal ultrasound (takes a picture of the prostate via the rectum; done when either of the first two tests show alarming results)
- Prostate biopsy (determines if any of the prostate abnormalities can cause cancer)
- Imaging Studies like Bone Scan. CT Scan, and MRI - help determine the size and exact location of the tumor
- Lymph node biopsy - determine the extent of the cancer’s metastasis and the organs that have already been involved in the cancer
Stages Of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer has 4 stages. Each stage represents a different level of severity and is also an effective way to have an idea about the prognosis of the patient’s condition.
- Stage 1 - the patient is usually free of symptoms since the cancer is only limited within the prostate.
- Stage 2 - the cancer still is confined in the prostate but symptoms have already started to appear one by one.
- Stage 3 - the cancer is on the verge of spreading and infecting other nearby organs.
- Stage 4 - metastasis has already taken place and other organs have already become cancerous.
Prostate cancer, when left undiagnosed and untreated, will lead to severe complications. They include urinary incontinence, pain during intercourse (dyspareunia), signs of depression, and erectile dysfunction. In addition, treatment methods for prostate cancer can suppress the normal function of the immune system.
How Prostate Cancer Be Treated
Below are the three basic ways to treat prostate cancer:
- Radiation therapy
Oftentimes, all three methods are being done all together to prevent further recurrence and spread of the cancer. There might also be times that only surgery is necessary for the cancer to disappear. However, this is only applicable to those cancers that have yet to metastasize to other organs.
After the treatment above becomes successful, treating urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction will be the next ( and hopefully the last) order of business.