Approximately 60% of men suffer from prostate cancer in their lifetime. With the increasing number of cases, there is also an advancement in the screening and treatment of prostate cancer; resulting in a very high survival rate. This cancer mostly targets men who are above 60 years old, however, men under 40 are at a lower risk.
In males, the prostate is a tiny walnut-shaped gland that creates seminal fluid which nourishes and carries sperms. Prostate is found right below the bladder, in front of the rectum. When cells of the prostate grow out of control, it leads to prostate cancer. It may remain confined to the prostate gland or may spread to other parts of the body, however, it is slow in expansion. Depending on the type of prostate cancer it may or may not cause serious harm to the body and sometimes might not even require a treatment.
Types of prostate cancer:
There are various types of aggressive and non-aggressive prostate cancers. Aggressive prostate cancers are violent in nature, grow quickly and might spread to other body parts, such as bones. Non-aggressive ones either grow at a very slow rate or sometimes they don’t even grow.
Most of the prostate cancers are adenocarcinoma, which arise in the cells of the glands. Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of prostate cancer, since most cells in the prostate glands are of the glandular type.
Other kinds of prostate cancers that may begin in the prostate are:
- Small cell carcinomas
- Neuroendocrine tumors (other than small cell carcinomas)
- Transitional cell carcinomas
- Ductal adenocarcinoma
- Other rare cancers
Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
When we talk about symptoms non-aggressive prostate cancer might not show or develop any symptoms. On the other hand, aggressive prostate cancer may include symptoms such as;
- Urinary problems are a pretty common symptom because the prostate is placed beneath the bladder and it covers the urethra. Because of the placement, if the cancer develops on the prostate, it might press on the bladder or urethra and perhaps lead to different issues, for instance,
- Frequent need to pee.
- Hematuria- Presence of blood in urine.
- Sensation of pain or burning at time of urination.
- Sexual Problems: Impotence, unable to get or keep an erection; other than erectile dysfunction, blood in the semen or sensation of pain or burning after or at the time of ejaculation may fall in the symptoms of prostate cancer.
- Pain and Numbness: If prostate cancer metastasizes, it substantially spreads to the bones. If the tumor spreads to the spinal cord, one might lose feeling in one’s legs and bladder. The following pains can occur in this case:
- Pelvic pain
- Back pain
- Chest pain
Screening for Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer screening tests might have pros and cons. Discuss the risks involved thoroughly with your doctor. Screening tests might include:
- Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): A gloved and lubricated finger is inserted by a doctor in the rectum to inspect the prostate. Doctors will look for hard lumps on the prostate gland that could be tumors.
- Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test: It is a blood test that detects the level of PSA, a protein produced by the prostate. Finding a higher than usual level of PSA, might be indicative of infection or cancer.
If an abnormality is detected in the screening, further tests may be recommended by doctors to determine prostate cancer.
- Prostate Biopsy: A small piece of the prostate gland is extracted for examination purposes.
- Ultrasound A small probe, quite similar to the shape of a cigar, is inserted into the rectum at the time of a transrectal ultrasound, to create a picture of the prostate gland using sound waves.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) To get a detailed picture, doctors may recommend a MRI scan of the prostate.
The treatment might depend on the stage of the cancer. Cancer can be staged according to the size of the tumor, the count of lymph nodes involved or whether the cancer has metastasized to other areas or not. In non-aggressive cancers, doctors might recommend watchful waiting, which is known as active surveillance. Age of the patient also plays a vital role in the treatment; doctors may advise different treatments for different age groups:
- Hormone therapy
- Stereotactic radiosurgery
How to reduce the risk?
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a suitable diet. Choose a low fat diet with more fruits and vegetables rather than high fat foods.
- Stick to a healthy weight according to your body mass index (BMI). Keep a track and regulate your everyday calorie intake.
- Exercise on regular bases. Studies have proven enumerable times the benefits of exercising. 30 minutes of exercise can help you maintain and reduce weight. It reduces the risk of many other diseases including heart diseases and other cancers. Add physical activity to your day, take the stairs and walk more.