Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. While some types grow slowly and may need minimal or even no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.
Prostate cancer that’s detected early — when it’s still confined to the prostate gland — has the best chance of successful treatment.
The exact cause of prostate cancer is not clear, but certain risk factors are known to increase the chance that one will develop this disease. These include age (it is more common in men over 50), race (it is more common in African-American men), family history (those with a father or brother with prostate cancer are at higher risk), and obesity.
Causes of Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland start to grow uncontrollably. While the exact cause of prostate cancer is unclear, it’s known to be driven by changes in the DNA of normal prostate cells. These changes can be inherited or acquired over a lifetime:
1. Age: Men age 50 and older run a greater risk of getting prostate cancer.
2. Race/Ethnicity: For reasons still unclear, prostate cancer is more prevalent among African-American men and Caribbean men of African descent as opposed to men of other races.
3. Family History: Men who have a family history (especially a father or brother) of prostate cancer are more likely to get it themselves.
4. Gene Changes: Certain genes (like BRCA1 and BRCA2) increase the risk of prostate cancer.
5. Hormones: High levels of androgens, such as testosterone, could play a part in prostate cancer cases, but the link isn’t clear.
6. Diet: A diet high in red meat or high-fat dairy products and low in vegetables and fruits may increase the risk of prostate cancer, although the evidence is not clear.
7. Obesity and Smoking: There’s some evidence that smokers and obese men are more at risk of getting and dying from prostate cancer, though this is still being studied.
8. Chemical Exposure: There is some evidence that firefighters and veterans exposed to Agent Orange may have a higher risk of getting prostate cancer.
9. Certain Prostate Conditions: Men with prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) -enlarged prostate- may have an increased risk of prostate cancer.
10. Sexual Activity: Some studies suggest high sexual activity or frequent ejaculation could reduce a man’s prostate cancer risk, although other studies have found no link.
Each person is unique and so is their relationship with prostate cancer – not everyone will have the same risk factors, and some people are diagnosed without any of these risk factors.
Risk Factors of Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer found in men. Certain risk factors can contribute to the development of this disease:
1. Age: Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40. The chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 60.
2. Race/Ethnicity: Prostate cancer develops more frequently in African-American men and in Afro-Caribbean men of African descent than in men of other races. African-American men are also more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage, and are more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men.
3. Family History: Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor.
4. Genes: Men who have certain mutated genes like BRCA1 and BRCA2, which increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in some families, also have an increased risk of prostate cancer.
5. Diet: Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products and consume fewer fruits and vegetables appear to be at higher risk of getting prostate cancer. These men also tend to eat fewer servings of fruits and vegetables.
6. Obesity: It might pose a risk for more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
7. Smoking: Studies have suggested a small increase in the risk of death from prostate cancer among smokers, but this is a subject of ongoing research.
8. Geographic Location: Prostate cancer is most common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and on Caribbean islands. It’s less common in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America.
Remember, having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that a man will definitely develop prostate cancer. Many men with one or more risk factors never develop the disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer often doesn’t show symptoms in the early stages but as it progresses, some men may experience the following signs and symptoms:
1. Difficulty starting or stopping a stream of urine.
2. Leaking of urine when laughing or coughing.
3. Inability to urinate standing up.
4. A burning or painful sensation during urination or ejaculation.
5. More frequent urges to urinate at night.
6. Loss of bladder control.
7. Decreased flow or velocity of urine stream.
8. Blood in the urine or semen.
Advanced prostate cancer symptoms can include:
1. Deep, dull pain in the pelvis, lower back, ribs, or upper thighs; pain in the bones of those areas.
2. Unexplained weight loss.
4. Swelling of the legs or feet.
Some of these symptoms can also be caused by conditions other than prostate cancer, like an enlarged prostate or a urinary infection. So, it’s important to seek medical advice if suffering from these symptoms. Regular screening can also help in early detection when the disease is easier to treat.
Diagnosis Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that begins in the prostate, a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces seminal fluid, which nourishes and transports sperm. It is one of the most common types of cancer in men.
The detailed diagnosis of prostate cancer usually starts with routine checks where a doctor physically examines the prostate for lumps or unusual growths. This is often followed by a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. A high PSA level may indicate the presence of prostate cancer.
If these initial tests suggest prostate cancer, other more definitive tests are typically conducted. These can include:
a transrectal ultrasound, where a probe is inserted into the rectum to get a better look at the prostate,
a prostate biopsy, where tissue is removed and examined for cancer cells,
MRI or CT scans to identify the exact location and stage of the cancer, and
a bone scan to check if the cancer has spread to the bones.
Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, treatment options can include active surveillance, surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or other therapies.
The diagnosis of prostate cancer can be a profound life changing event, however, in many cases, especially if detected early, prostate cancer is treatable and many men with this diagnosis live for many years after finding out they have this disease.
Treatment of Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer treatment options depend largely on the stage of the disease, the patient’s age and overall health, and the patient’s personal preferences. Here are several common treatments:
1. Active Surveillance: For low-risk prostate cancer, doctors may recommend active surveillance. This involves regular follow-ups and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests. If tests show the cancer is progressing, treatment may begin.
2. Radiation Therapy: This treatment uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. There are two types of radiation therapy: external beam radiation and brachytherapy (internal radiation).
3. Hormone Therapy: Prostate cells need testosterone to grow. Hormone therapy involves taking medication to cut the body’s testosterone production. Another method is to surgically remove the testicles.
4. Surgery: A prostatectomy is an operation to remove the prostate gland. It may be an option for men with localized prostate cancer.
5. Cryotherapy: For this treatment, doctors insert small needles into the prostate. A gas freezes the cells and destroys them to treat the cancer.
6. Chemotherapy: Doctors administer drugs intravenously (through a vein) or in pill form. Chemotherapy kills fast-growing cells throughout the body, including cancer cells.
7. Biologic Therapy (Immunotherapy): Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. One type of immunotherapy currently used for prostate cancer works by stimulating the patient’s immune cells to attack the cancer.
8. High-intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU): A newer treatment, HIFU uses an ultrasound probe to heat and destroy cancer cells.
Treatment of prostate cancer can often cause side effects such as urinary incontinence and sexual impotence. Therefore, it’s crucial that men diagnosed with prostate cancer weigh the potential benefits of treatment against the potential downsides and talk with their doctors to make an informed decision.
Medications commonly used for Prostate cancer
There are several types of medications commonly used for the treatment of prostate cancer:
1. Hormone Therapy: This is the most common form of systemic treatment for prostate cancer. Doctors use hormone therapy to reduce or stop the growth of cancer cells that are sensitive to hormones. Examples of these medications include Luteinizing Hormone-Releasing Hormone (LHRH) agonists and antagonists like leuprolide (Eligard, Lupron), goserelin (Zoladex), and degarelix (Firmagon).
2. Antiandrogens: These medications block the body’s ability to use androgens (male hormones), thereby limiting the availability of androgens for prostate cancer cells. Medications like Bicalutamide (Casodex), Flutamide (Eulexin), and Nilutamide (Nilandron).
3. Chemotherapy: Drugs such as docetaxel (Taxotere), cabazitaxel (Jevtana) and others may be used, mainly when hormone therapy is not more effective.
4. Immunotherapy: This approach involves stimulating the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Sipuleucel-T (Provenge) is an immunotherapy drug used for prostate cancer.
5. Radiopharmaceuticals: Certain drugs like Radium-223 dichloride (Xofigo) are taken up primarily by the prostate cancer cells in the bones, where they give off radiation that kills cancer cells.
6. Targeted therapy: Medications like Olaparib (Lynparza) and Rucaparib (Rubraca) are PARP inhibitors used in some cases of prostate cancer that has specific mutations in DNA repair genes.
7. Other Hormone Treatments: Medications that can decrease the level of male hormones like estrogens and corticosteroids can be used.
Note: This is not an exhaustive list of all possible medications. The proper treatment will depend on several factors, including the stage of the cancer, the age and health of the patient, and the specific genetics of the tumor. Always consult with a healthcare provider when considering treatment options.
Prevention of Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer prevention strategies include making lifestyle choices that improve your overall health and help manage your risk. Though these preventative measures are not guaranteed to prevent prostate cancer, they can assist in maintaining overall health and potentially reducing the risk of getting prostate cancer:
1. Diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can keep your body healthy and potentially decrease cancer risk. Limiting the amount of red meat and processed foods is also advisable.
2. Drink Green Tea: Some studies suggest that green tea may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
3. Exercise Regularly: Regular physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight, which in turn can reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity can increase the risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer.
5. Regular Check-ups: Regular doctor’s checkups and prostate cancer screenings after the age of 50 (or earlier if you are in a high-risk group) can help in early detection, when the chances of successful treatment are highest.
6. Limit Alcohol: Drinking alcohol can lead to numerous health problems, including an increased risk of prostate cancer.
7. Quit Smoking: There is some evidence suggesting a possible link between smoking and prostate cancer.
8. Consider a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test: Discuss with your doctor whether this prostate cancer screening is right for you.
It’s important to keep in mind that while these tips may decrease your risk, they cannot eliminate it entirely. Genetics and family history can also play a significant role in your risk level. Always consult a healthcare professional or doctor for personalized advice.
FAQ’s about Prostate cancer
1. What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that occurs in the prostate, a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.
2. What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. Advanced prostate cancers can cause some symptoms such as: Trouble urinating, decreased force in the stream of urine, blood in semen, discomfort in the pelvic area, bone pain, or erectile dysfunction.
3. What causes prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate become abnormal, multiply, and grow out of control. The exact cause is not known, but several risk factors have been identified like age, race/ethnicity, family history, and diet.
4. How is prostate cancer detected and diagnosed?
Prostate cancer can be detected through routine screening, which may include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Diagnosis is usually confirmed by a biopsy.
5. How is prostate cancer treated?
Treatment options for prostate cancer can depend on a number of factors, including the stage of the cancer, your overall health, and your personal preferences. Options might include surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or active surveillance.
6. What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?
Risk factors include age, a family history of the disease, race, certain genetic changes, diet, obesity, smoking, certain prostate changes, and exposure to certain chemicals and toxins.
7. Can prostate cancer be prevented?
While it’s not possible to prevent prostate cancer completely, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise can lower your overall risk of developing cancer.
8. Are there support available for patients with prostate cancer?
Yes, support groups, counselling services, and good informational resources are widely available for patients with prostate cancer. Consult with healthcare providers for the best options available in your region.
Remember to always consult a health professional or doctor for accurate information and to assess and understand your personal risk for prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that happens in the prostate – a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men.
Here are some useful links to journals and articles that may provide more information:
These sources include overviews of prostate cancer, its symptoms, diagnostic methodologies, treatments, risk factors, and ongoing research.
Please consult with a healthcare professional for advice related to individual health circumstances.
Complications of Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is a serious condition that potentially has several complications, including:
1. Urinary Incontinence: This complication arises due to the effect of prostate cancer on the urinary sphincter — the muscle that controls urination. Radiation or surgery can cause damage, leading to various types of urinary incontinence, such as stress incontinence (leakage during strenuous activity) or overflow incontinence (constant dribbling of urine).
2. Sexual Dysfunction: Treatments like surgery, radiation and hormone therapy can all cause sexual dysfunction. This could be erectile dysfunction for some men, or problems with arousal and orgasm. This can impact a person’s intimate relationships, self-esteem, and overall quality of life.
3. Bowel Dysfunction: Radiation therapy could potentially harm the rectum, leading to a range of bowel problems such as rectal urgency, frequent bowel movements or diarrhea.
4. Metastasis: Advanced prostate cancer can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, typically the bones and lymph nodes. This can cause severe pain and broken bones, and possibly lead to further serious health complications.
5. Hormonal Changes: Hormone therapy for prostate cancer can cause side effects as it lowers the amount of testosterone, this could lead to hot flashes, loss of muscle mass, weight gain, and fatigue.
6. Mental Health Impact: Like many serious illnesses, prostate cancer and its treatment can lead to depression, anxiety, and issues with memory and thinking.
7. Rare complications: Rarely, prostate cancer can cause spinal cord compression. Prostate cancer metastasis might compress the spinal cord, resulting in pain and paralysis, which is a medical emergency.
Remember, not everyone who has prostate cancer will experience these complications. The occurrence and severity depend on various factors such as the stage and aggressiveness of the cancer and the type of treatment.
Home remedies of Prostate cancer
While home remedies cannot cure prostate cancer, they can assist in managing symptoms and improving overall health during treatment. However, they should be used in conjunction with conventional treatment approved by a healthcare provider. Remember, it’s important to discuss any home remedies you’re interested in with your doctor before starting them.
1. Healthy Diet: Maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet is crucial. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help strengthen your immune system and improve your overall health.
2. Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity can contribute to maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of advanced prostate cancer.
3. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. This helps detoxify the body and keep organs functioning properly.
4. Green Tea: Green tea contains antioxidants that may slow prostate cancer growth and promote cell death.
5. Tomatoes: Some studies suggest that the lycopene found in tomatoes might help prevent prostate cancer.
6. Low-Fat Diet: Studies have shown that a low-fat diet might decrease prostate cancer risk.
7. Avoid Alcohol & Smoking: These can increase your risk of various cancers, including prostate cancer. It’s best to quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake.
8. Vitamin D: Some research suggests that vitamin D may be linked to a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
9. Meditation & Yoga: These stress-reduction techniques can help you stay calm and balanced, support your emotional health, and improve your quality of life during treatment.
10. Turmeric: Curcumin, found in turmeric, has been shown in some studies to slow the spread of cancer cells.
Always make sure to consult a healthcare provider or a dietitian before starting any new regimen or diet. It’s also vital to maintain regular check-ups and screenings for early detection of prostate cancer.