Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men, affecting one out of every six men in the US. This disease affects the prostate, the golf ball-sized gland located under the bladder and in front of the rectum. This gland helps produce semen and allows for sperm to move more effectively, along with several other functions.
Although this disease can be life-threatening and is a scary diagnosis to receive, many cases of prostate cancer spread slowly and may only require minimal treatment. When confined to the prostate gland, this disease can usually be treated effectively, making early detection crucial for handling prostate cancer.
Cause of Prostate Cancer
The specific cause of prostate cancer is unknown, although it is believed to be a combination of hereditary, hormonal and environmental factors. When cancer cells develop, they invade the healthy tissues and multiply at a rate much faster than regular cells.
Certain patients may be at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer, including those who are over the age of 65, have a family history of the disease, and have certain prostate changes, such as cells with high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). Men who have a high-fat diet may also be at an increased risk of developing the disease.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Many patients with prostate cancer do not experience any noticeable symptoms while the disease is in its early stages. As the disease progresses, patients may experience:
- Trouble urinating
- Slowed urine stream
- Starting and stopping while urinating
- Blood in the urine
- Swelling in legs
- Bone pain
- Bone fractures
These symptoms are often not related to cancer, but to infections or other health problems. Patients should notify their doctor at the first sign of any symptoms.
Treatment of Prostate Cancer
Treatment for prostate cancer is most successful when the disease is identified before it has spread to other areas. The best treatment method can vary depending on each patient’s individual age, grade of the tumor, stage of the cancer and overall health. Some patients may only require active monitoring, while others may require chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, surgery, or a combination treatment plan.
Surgery removes the tumor through an open or laparoscopic procedure, while other treatment methods use medication, radiation and male hormones to destroy the tumor and remove all traces of the cancer. While prostate cancer cannot be prevented, patients can reduce their risk of developing the disease by maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle, and avoiding a diet high in fats.