Cancer can occur in any part of the body – lungs, intestine, rectum, breast or prostate. Prostate cancer develops as a malignant tumor that starts in the prostate gland. There is a possibility of the cancer spreading from the prostate to the lymph nodes, other organs or bones through metastasis.
This is the second most common type of cancer in men, which can lead to death. However, with the improvement of medicine, survival rates in patients have improved considerably. The cause of prostate cancer has never been found out, however, there are some risk factors that induce prostate cancer.
It has been found out that with the increase of age, the risk of prostate cancer tends to increase. Having family members with prostate cancer increases the risk of developing prostate cancer. Statistics show that African-American men have a higher risk of prostate cancer than Caucasian men. And of course, obese men are more prone to prostate cancer.
There are no specific symptoms for prostate cancer; however as it grows, men tend to suffer from pain in the lower back, upper thighs and pelvis. Other symptoms of advanced prostate cancer are complications in urinating like increase in frequency, interrupted flow, finding it difficult to stop or start urinating, presence of blood in the urine and the presence of pain and burning sensation.
It is suggested that men over the age of 50, have to take a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test every year, along with a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) to find out the presence of prostate cancer. In a DRE, the physician tests for an enlarged prostate, lumps or any abnormal texture by inserting a lubricated and gloved finger into the rectum.
The prostate cells produce PSA, and with the PSA test, its level in the blood stream is determined. Men having PSA levels higher than 4ng/mL have a higher chance of prostate cancer. However, sometimes men with low PSA levels may contract prostate cancer; it all depends on the normal PSA level of a man. If it was always on the higher side, then there is not much to worry; this is why it is better to keep track of PSA levels. It is also possible to diagnose prostate cancer through transrectal ultrasound and biopsies. It is through a biopsy that prostate cancer is correctly diagnosed.
The doctor suggests treatment for prostate cancer depending on its severity. It can be surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or watchful waiting. Through hormonal therapy, the effect of male hormones like testosterone is blocked to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. However, this is not a cure; it just controls the disease.
With the surgical treatment, prostate glands and surrounding lymph glands are removed, depending on the severity of the condition. However this may cause hot flashes, loss of interest in sex, impotence and other problems in the patient. Sometimes, radiation is suggested where x-rays are passed through an external machine or through radioactive isotopes inside the body. The doctor may also suggest chemotherapy where the patient is prescribed medication that is administered either orally or through injections.
However, since prostate cancer attacks older men, they are usually advised watchful waiting. This is best if the tumor is small, is expected a low growth rate or when medical treatment proves to be rather risky and may lead to death. The patient has to be monitored frequently with this treatment, but no treatment is administered.