Last updated date: 16-May-2023
Originally Written in English
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that develops and affects the prostate. This is the small gland located in the lower abdomen of a man, just underneath the bladder near the urethra. Hormone testosterone regulates the prostate and manufactures seminal fluid, referred to as the semen. This is a substance that contains sperms and gets out of the urethra during ejaculation.
Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal and malignant cells known as tumors grow in the prostate. Some types of tumors grow rapidly and can spread to other parts of the body. However, others grow gradually and do not necessarily require treatment.
Causes of Prostate Cancer
The actual causes of prostate cancer are not clear. However, medical experts believe that prostate cancer develops when the cells within the prostate undergo changes in the DNA. The DNA of the cells usually has an instructing trait that informs that cell how to function. Therefore, any DNA change triggers the cells to grow and multiply rapidly, unlike other healthy cells. Even if the normal cells die, these abnormal cells will continue to survive.
Eventually, these abnormal cells will develop into a tumor which advances gradually and can invade the surrounding tissue. If not diagnosed and treated on time, the aggressive tumors can spread or metastasize to various parts of the body.
Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Certain types of prostate cancerare less aggressive and are not always associated with any sign or symptom. However, advanced or aggressive cancer comes with various symptoms such as;
- Urinating problem
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Traces of blood in the urine
- Reduced force in the urine stream
- Bone pain
- Erectile malfunction
- Weight loss
- Changes in bowel habits
Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer
Some of the factors that might increase the risk of developing prostate tumor include;
Age: Prostate cancer is more common among men who are 50 years of age and above. This means that you are at a higher risk of suffering from prostate cancer as you get older.
Family history: You are at a higher risk of developing have a close relative or family member like a parent, child, or sibling with prostate cancer. Also, having a family history of genetics associated with breast cancer risk or a family history of a similar condition increases prostate cancer chances.
Race: Due to unknown reasons, black people are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer as compared to individuals of other races. Furthermore, prostate cancer in black people tends to be more aggressive and advances rapidly.
Obesity: Most men who are obese are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, unlike individuals with normal weight. Furthermore, cancer in obese people is more likely to be aggressive and can return even after treatment.
Complications Associated With Prostate Cancer
Some of the complications associated with prostate cancer include;
Metastasizing cancer: Certain types of prostate cancer can metastasize to the surrounding organs, including the bladder. The cancerous cells can also enter the lymphatic system or the bloodstream and travel towards the bones and other organs. Type of prostate cancer that metastasizes into the bones can result in severe pain and sometimes broken bones.
Erectile dysfunction: This can occur due to prostate cancer and the treatment options such as surgery, hormone treatment, or radiation therapy. Vacuum devices and drugs can help address erection disorders. Also, depending on the extent of the condition, surgery may be necessary to treat erectile dysfunction.
Urinary incontinence: Prostate cancer, as well as the treatment, can sometimes result in urinary incontinence. However, the treatment options for this condition can vary based on the type, how intense it is, and the chances of improving with time. The treatment can either include taking medications, a surgical procedure, or catheters.
Screening for Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer screening usually depends on a person’s preference and choice. This is because most types of cancers develop gradually and do not cause any medical problems. However, medical experts recommend screening for prostate cancer, especially men who are 50 years and above.
Examples of prostate cancer screening tests include;
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test:
PSA tests involve extracting a small sample of blood from the arm's vein to check for PSA. This is a substance that the prostate gland produces naturally, and a small amount of PSA is usually found in the bloodstream. If the results indicate a high level than the usual, then it could be a sign of prostate cancer, infection, enlargement, or inflammation.
Digital rectal examination (DRE):
DRE is another type of cancer screening procedure. It involves the insertion of a lubricated and gloved finger into the rectum to check the prostate. In case the doctor discovers an abnormality in the shape, size, and texture of the prostate gland, more additional tests may be required. This is to analyze the situation further and determine if it's cancer.
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
In case prostate cancer screening shows an abnormality, then the doctor can recommend additional tests. This is to find out if it's prostate cancer. Some of the diagnostic tests they can use include;
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test: Depending on the screening results, the healthcare provider can suggest an MRI scan. It’s an imaging test that provides more detailed images of the prostate. These images make it easy for the doctor to plan and prepare a procedure to extract some prostate tissue samples.
Ultrasound: Doctors can perform an ultrasound procedure by inserting a tiny probe of the shape and size of a cigarette into the rectum. This probe utilizes sound waves to produce images of the prostate gland and surrounding tissues.
Collection of prostate tissue sample: Sometimes, a doctor can recommend a method to obtain samples of the prostate cells. This is to determine if there are any cancerous cells in the prostate. This type of procedure is known as a prostate biopsy. It involves using a small needle that the doctor inserts inside the prostate to remove the tissue sample. The obtained tissue sample is then brought to the lab for more analysis to determine if there are malignant cells.
If prostate biopsy results show the presence of cancer, the doctor can perform another procedure. This is to determine the extent of aggressiveness or grade of the cells. The high grade shows an aggressive malignancy and is likely to grow and spread rapidly.
Methods that doctors often use to measure the aggressiveness of the tumor include;
Gleason score: This is a common technique that involves combining two numbers ranging from two to ten (nonaggressive and highly aggressive cancer).
Genomic testing: Analyzes the prostate cancer cells to check for the presence of the genetic mutation.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
Treatment options for prostate cancer usually depend on certain factors. It can include how rapidly cancer is advancing if it has metastasized other areas and the general health. It can as well be the possible side effects and benefits that come with the treatment.
Overall, the most common treatment options for prostate cancer include;
Less aggressive prostate cancer does not necessarily require immediate treatment. Some patients may not even require medication at all. Alternatively, physicians often suggest active surveillance instead.
Daily blood checks, prostate biopsies, and rectal examinations can be conducted during active surveillance. This helps keep track of the progress of the tumor. If tests revealed that the cancer is advancing, the doctor could recommend prostate cancer treatment options, including radiation or surgery.
Prostate cancer surgery includes the removal of the prostate gland, a process known as radical prostatectomy. It can as well involve the removal of some nearby tissue and several lymph nodes.
Surgery is an alternative for curing tumors that are restricted to the prostate. It is also used to treat advanced conditions in conjunction with other types of treatment.
- Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy radiation to destroy or delay the growth of cancerous cells. Doctors often use radiation therapy as the main treatment for prostate cancer or in place of a surgical procedure. Alternatively, it can also be used following surgery, especially if the tumor is not entirely extracted or returns.
Prostate cancer cryotherapy refers to the controlled freezing of the prostate gland. Freezing aims to kill cancerous cells in the prostate. This procedure is suitable for men who are not the best candidates to undergo radiotherapy or surgery due to certain health conditions.
Chemotherapy uses medicines to destroy rapidly developing cells, including tumor cells. Doctors usually administer chemotherapy via a vein in the arm, in the form of pills, or sometimes both. It’s a treatment alternative for prostate cancer that has metastasized to various body parts. Chemotherapy can as well be an alternative for tumors that fails to respond to other treatments.
Other treatment alternatives include;
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that occurs in the prostate glands. It’s a chronic health condition and one of the leading causes of death in men globally. While some types of prostate cancers are less aggressive, others are extreme and can result in severe complications.
If you are suffering or suspect prostate cancer, then you can always consider the CloudHospital medical platform. It works with professional healthcare providers who specialize in diagnosing, treating, managing, and preventing prostate malignancy.