Saturday, September 19, 2020

Prostate Cancer Explained: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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The prostate is an organ which is part of the male reproductive system and it is found at the base of the urethra and surrounding it.  The main functions of the prostate gland are to control the flow of urine and to produce certain minerals and sugars which are found in the seminal fluid (semen).  The prostate gland of young and healthy males is roughly the size of a walnut but it tends to grow during the normal aging process which is known as a benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and causes urinary disturbances.

Understanding Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a malignant growth which originates in the cells of the prostate gland.  Typically, the beginning stage of the cancer has a slow progression as it may be present and going nowhere for many years and without displaying any signs of irregularity.  As the cancer matures, it can spread (metastasize) to surrounding tissues as well as to other tissues of more remote organs of the body such as the bones, liver, kidneys, lymph nodes, stomach and lungs.  When symptoms finally become apparent, they are indicative of advanced stages of the cancer.  It is important to note here that there are also certain types of prostate cancer which are aggressive and fast moving from their beginning developmental stage.

Prostate cancer is found around the world but the lowest incident count is in South and East Asia and the count goes up among the European nations.  In the United States, prostate cancer is counted among the most frequently occurring cancers in men as one out of six are affected and this is the highest global rate.  Prostate cancer is most prevalent among men over fifty and the risk increases as men grow older.  In most cases, it is discovered through routine screenings such as the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test or a digital rectal exam (DRE).

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

As mentioned above, early stages of prostate cancer are usually asymptomatic.  However, when symptoms finally appear they most likely affect urinary and sexual functions with the following symptoms:

  1. Frequent urination, most particularly during the night.
  2. Trouble maintaining a constant stream of urine as it tends to stop and start and its flow is significantly slowed.
  3. Blood in the urine and/or the semen.
  4. Pain during urination and/or ejaculation.
  5. 5Inability to achieve an erection.

When prostate cancer extends to other areas of the body, more symptoms will be experienced such as:

  1. Persistent pain in the bones; most frequently in the vertebrae, pelvis or ribs and that may be accompanied by frequent fractures.
  2. General weakness and fatigue.
  3. Urinary and fecal incontinence.
  4. Swollen legs.

Causes

The specific causes for prostate cancer are not known and perhaps they are multifaceted.  However, the risk factors are known to include: 

a) Advanced Age – This is the biggest risk as approximately thirty percent of men over the age of 50 and eighty percent of men over the age of 70 have prostate cancer whether they have been diagnosed or not.  Prostate cancer in men under 45 years of age is extremely rarely. 

b) Genetics and Heredity – Men whose fathers or brothers had prostate cancer are at much higher risk than the average men. 

c) Race or Ethnicity – African American men are in the highest risk group. 

d) Diet – Foods deficient in minerals, vitamins and Omega 3 fatty oils increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. 

e) Lifestyle. 

f) Hormonal Factors – High testosterone levels lead to the growth of the prostate gland and may therefore also lead to the abnormal growth of cancer cells. 

g) Certain Medications and Medical Conditions. 

h) Infrequent Ejaculations – Men who ejaculate less than 5 times per week are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer. 

i) Environmental Aspects. 

j) Obesity. 

k) Miscellaneous other issues.

Treatments

There are several available treatments for prostate cancer and the choice depends on the age of the patient and his overall health condition, on the stage of the cancer and how much it has spread as well as on the benefit of one route of treatments versus another.  The most often used treatments are external beam radiation treatment (EBRT) which involves high-powered X-rays to destroy cancer cells; radioactive seed implants (brachytherapy) deliver high doses of radiation; hormone therapy to stop the body’s production of testosterone; radical prostatectomy involves the removal of the prostate gland and neighboring lymph nodes; chemotherapy kills the cells which grow out of control; cryotherapty destroys cancerous cells by means of freezing; and watchful waiting (observation, expectant therapy or deferred therapy).

2 COMMENTS

  1. Johnson

    Most risk factors for prostate cancer can’t be controlled. For example, the disease is more common among men who are older, have a family history of the disease or are African-American. How much diet influences prostate cancer risk remains unclear. Researchers have noted the following observations.

    Saturated fat. Population studies show that Asian men living in Asia have a 2 percent lifetime risk of prostate cancer; when they move to the United States, the risk in the next generation jumps to 10 percent. One possible reason: the fatty Western diet. Some studies suggest that men who eat more animal fat may have a higher rate of prostate cancer.
    Selenium. Earlier studies suggested that diets rich in selenium might lower prostate cancer risk. More recent studies have not confirmed this. Clearly, selenium supplements do not decrease your chance of developing prostate cancer.
    Vitamin D. Recent studies show that men who have higher intakes of vitamin D have a lower risk of advanced prostate cancer.
    Lycopene. Higher intake of a substance called lycopene — an antioxidant found in produce such as tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit and guava — may be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. However, it might not be the lycopene. Some studies have linked prostate cancer to a low intake of fresh fruits and vegetables in general.
    Calcium. A few studies have linked prostate cancer to a higher intake of calcium, which is found mainly in dairy products.

  2. Paul

    Since 1992, the presence of a familial prostate cancer gene (or genes) had been suspected because of a clear link between a family history of prostate cancer and a man’s risk of developing the disease. Prostate cancer that is believed to have a genetic basis is called hereditary prostate cancer (HPC).

    Researchers have identified a variety of different genes that may play a role a role in prostate cancer, including the BRCA genes that influence a woman’s risk of breast cancer. No one gene or set of genes can explain all cases of HPC. Different genes may be important in different racial, ethnic and geographic populations.

    Most scientists believe that cancer happens because of a combination of mutations to a variety of genes. These mutations may be inherited or they may be acquired because of environmental factors, such as diet or smoking, or because of random mistakes in the replication or repair of DNA. Think of a genetic slot machine, in which to develop cancer, you need to get three, four or five oranges in a row. Each mutated gene is worth at least one orange.

    Researchers hope that identifying the chromosomal location associated with some cases of HPC will lead to the identification of one or more specific genes involved in the development of prostate cancer. This would enable doctors to identify families that carry the mutated forms of these genes, and thus to identify men who are at high risk for developing the disease. Ultimately, the goal is either to develop therapies to prevent prostate cancer from occurring or to develop tests that enable doctors to detect prostate cancer in time to cure it. Men with HPC tend to develop the disease far sooner than other men, even as young as their late thirties or early forties. By the time these men start routine screening for prostate cancer, it may already be too late to cure it.

    Until more is learned about HPC, men with a family history of the disease should talk with their doctor about a yearly digital rectal examination and PSA test, beginning at age 40.

Jonathan
Medically trained in the UK. Writes on the subjects of injuries, healthcare and medicine. Contact me jonathan@cleanseplan.com

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