Overview Of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is one of the various types of cancer. It only affects men. Cancer starts growing in the prostate gland in the reproductive system of males. It is one of the diseases, which progress very slowly. There are various types of treatment for prostate cancer, but many men dont even bother treating their prostate cancer. Yes, the treatment helps to reduce the growth of prostate cancer to some extent, but because of its slow progression, most of the men choose to monitor the cancer progression at first instead of immediately opting for treatment.
Prostate cancer is a very common form of cancer. Prostate cancer is also the second leading cause of cancer death after skin cancer. The statistics show that 1 out of 7 men is likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their entire life span. Furthermore, 1 out of 39 men will die because of prostate cancer.
What Causes Prostate Cancer
Researchers don’t know for sure what causes prostate cancer. They do know that it happens when there are changes in the genetic material .
Sometimes these genetic changes are inherited, meaning that you are born with them. There are also certain genetic changes that happen during your lifetime that can raise your risk of prostate cancer. But often the exact cause of these genetic changes is unknown.
Prostate Specific Antigen Test
A blood test called a prostate specific antigen test measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate.
As a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. But many factors, such as age and race, can affect PSA levels. Some prostate glands make more PSA than others.
PSA levels also can be affected by
- Certain medical procedures.
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Visible Blood In Your Urine
The first sign of bladder cancer may be blood you see in your urine stream or in the toilet bowl. Usually, its pink or red and isnt accompanied by any pain, Bochner says. Most people otherwise feel perfectly fine people will sometimes think, Well, I may have strained myself or I did something that caused that, he adds.
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Advanced Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Men with advanced prostate cancer may experience additional symptoms. Thats because the cancer has spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, such as the bones or lymph nodes.
Signs of metastatic prostate cancer may include:
- Swelling in legs or pelvic area
- Numbness or pain in the hips, legs or feet
- Bone pain that persists or leads to fractures
A wide range of treatment options are available for managing advanced cancer. These treatments kill cancer cells, but they may also help patients manage pain.
Prostate cancer treatment: The care you need is one call away
Your multidisciplinary team will work with you to develop a personalized plan to treat your prostate cancer in a way that fits your individual needs and goals.
Are There Prostate Cancer Risk Factors To Consider
Cancer researchers have identified several factors that could increase a mans risk of developing prostate cancer. In considering whether any of these risk factors apply to you, remember that having one or more of them does not mean you will get the disease. However, you should be sure to get all the prostate cancer screenings your physician recommends. It is also important to know that men without these risk factors may also have prostate cancer.
Signs And Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer
Most prostate cancers are found early, through screening. Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. More advanced prostate cancers can sometimes cause symptoms, such as:
- Problems urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night
- Trouble getting an erection
- Pain in the hips, back , chest , or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord
Most of these problems are more likely to be caused by something other than prostate cancer. For example, trouble urinating is much more often caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia , a non-cancerous growth of the prostate. Still, its important to tell your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed. Some men might need more tests to check for prostate cancer.
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Symptoms Of Advanced Prostate Cancer
Symptoms of advanced prostate cancer include:
- Dull, deep pain or stiffness in your pelvis, lower back, ribs, or upper thighs pain in the bones of those areas
- Loss of weight and appetite
- Fatigue, nausea, or vomiting
- Swelling of your lower limbs
- Weakness or paralysis in your lower limbs, often with constipation
When To See Your Doctor About Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Talk to your doctor if:
- You have trouble urinating or find that urination is painful or different from usual. Your doctor should check your prostate gland to see whether it is enlarged, inflamed with an infection, or cancerous.
- You have pain that doesnât go away in your lower back, pelvis, upper thighbones, or other bones.
- You lose weight for no clear reason.
- You have swelling in your legs.
- You have weakness in your legs or a hard time walking, especially if you also have constipation.
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How Is Prostate Cancer Treated
In many cases, treatment is not immediately necessary.
If the cancer is at an early stage and not causing symptoms, a policy of ‘watchful waiting’ or ‘active surveillance’ may be adopted. This involves carefully monitoring your condition.
Some cases of prostate cancer can be cured if treated in the early stages. Treatments include surgically removing the prostate, radiotherapy and hormone therapy.
Some cases are only diagnosed at a later stage when the cancer has spread. If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, typically the bones, it cannot be cured and treatment is focused on prolonging life and relieving symptoms.
All treatment options carry the risk of significant side effects, including erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. For this reason, many people choose to delay treatment until there is a risk the cancer might spread.
Newer treatments, such as high-intensity focused ultrasound or cryotherapy, aim to reduce these side effects. Some hospitals may offer them as an alternative to surgery, radiotherapy or hormone therapy. However, the long-term effectiveness of these treatments are not yet known.
Read more about treating prostate cancer
How To Involve Your Spouse Or Partner In Your Advanced Prostate Cancer Care
Whether diet can impact either your risk of getting prostate cancer or your prognosis is an area of active study, but there have been few answers so far. Clearer evidence exists with regard to supplements, with the general consensus being that theyre not helpful. The best advice so far: Follow a diet thats good for the heart and focus on whole foods.
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What Does It Mean For Prostate Cancer To Spread
Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body. Doctors say the cancer has Ã¢metastasizedÃ¢ or spread if this occurs.
Prostate cancer can spread to:
- pale skin due to anemia
These symptoms can also occur with aging and an enlarged prostate. As a result, some people may ignore them instead of seeking medical attention.
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, age is the biggest contributing factor to prostate cancer risk. Doctors diagnose an estimated 60% of all prostate cancers in males older than 65 years of age.
It states that additional risk factors for prostate cancer include:
- Family history: People with a close relative who has had prostate cancer may be twice as likely to get prostate cancer as those who do not.
- Race: Males of African descent are about 75% more likely to develop prostate cancer than white males and more than twice as likely to die from the condition.
- Smoking: A history of smoking is associated with a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
You Have Difficulty Peeing
If you have trouble urinating or your stream is slow or weak, call your doctorit could be one of the most common signs of prostate cancer. Even if this happens once or twice and doesnt persist, you should not ignore it because its not normal. Get it checked out right away, says Ash Tewari, MD, chairman of the department of urology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Although your toilet troubles are more likely to be caused by a condition other than cancerthey can be a symptom of UTIs in men, for exampleyou cant be too careful, he says. The urge to go more often, especially at night, or loss of bladder control can be another sign that somethings not right.
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Screening For Prostate Cancer
One screening test for prostate cancer is a prostate-specific antigen blood test, which can be abnormal for several reasons besides prostate cancer.
The only way to know if an abnormal test is due to cancer is to do a biopsy. A biopsy is a surgery to get small pieces of the prostate to look at under a microscope. If the biopsy shows there are cancer cells, then your doctor will discuss treatment options.
Treatment of prostate cancer may include
- Close monitoring and follow-up visits.
- Surgery to remove the prostate.
Side effects from radiation or surgery may include
- Problems with your rectum.
Some medical groups have different screening recommendations.
Talk with your doctor or nurse to decide together if prostate cancer screening is right for you.
Here are some questions you can ask your doctor about prostate cancer screening
- Am I at a greater risk for prostate cancer?
- At what age should I start to think about screening for prostate cancer?
- If I get my blood test, and it is not normal, what other things could I have besides prostate cancer?
- What is a biopsy, and how is it done?
- What are the side effects or risks of a biopsy?
- If my biopsy shows some cancer cells, what does that mean?Ask about all treatment options: close monitoring and follow-up visits, radiation, or surgery to remove the prostate.
- What are the side effects or risks of each treatment?
Prostate Cancer Treatment Options: What Are They
Prostate cancer is, most often, a slow-growing cancer.
For some men, prostate cancer causes no symptoms or long-term issues, so treatment isnt necessary.
In these cases, doctors may recommend active surveillance. That is, theyll keep an eye on the development of the tumor using various tools and tests, including:
- Digital rectal exams
- Transrectal ultrasounds
- Prostate biopsies
Men who require treatment for their condition are most often treated with surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these modalities.
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So What Are The Warning Signs Of Prostate Cancer
Unfortunately, there usually arent any early warning signs for prostate cancer. The growing tumor does not push against anything to cause pain, so for many years the disease may be silent. Thats why screening for prostate cancer is such an important topic for all men and their families.
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In rare cases, prostate cancer can cause symptoms. Contact your doctor for an evaluation if you experience any of the following:
- A need to urinate frequently, especially at night, some- times urgently
- Difficulty starting or holding back urination
- Weak, dribbling, or interrupted flow of urine
- Painful or burning urination
- Difficulty in having an erection
- A decrease in the amount of fluid ejaculated
- Pressure or pain in the rectum
- Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or thighs
What about difficulty in having an erection? Again, this is most likely not caused by cancer but by other factors such as diabetes, smoking, cardiovascular disease, or just plain getting older.
That said: Symptoms are symptoms, and no matter whats most likely to be causing them, you should get them checked out by a doctor.
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How Common Is Prostate Cancer And Who Is At Risk
Prostate cancer most often affects men between ages 55 and 69. There is a huge gap between the proportion of men diagnosed with prostate cancer and those whose health and lifespan are affected by the disease. American men have a 16 percent lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer, but only 2.9 percent of men die from it.
In fact, many prostate cancers are believed to be slow growing, with men dying from causes other than prostate cancer. Autopsy studies support this, finding that 30 percent of 55-year-old men and 60 percent of men reaching age 80 on whom an autopsy is performed have autopsy-discovered prostate cancer.
There are some factors that increase risk for prostate cancer, including:
Race Race seems to play a role in the frequency and severity of the disease. African-American men are far more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men 203.5 vs. 121.9 cases per 100,000 men. They are also more than twice as likely as white men to die of prostate cancer 44.1 vs. 19.1 deaths per 100,000 men.
Family History Positive family history of prostate cancer is another risk factor.
Elevated Body Mass Index Elevated BMI is another risk factor, linked to an increased risk of prostate-cancer-specific mortality and biochemical recurrence in men with prostate cancer.
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Prostate Cancer Symptoms Range From Problems Urinating To Bone Pain And Erectile Dysfunction Other Conditions Such As Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia And Prostatitis Can Mimic Signs Of Prostate Cancer
A diagnosis of prostate cancer is both troubling and confusing, with lots of new terms to learn and concepts to understand.
Despite the fact that there are roughly 221,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in American men each year, many of them have no prostate cancer symptoms.
In these asymptomatic men, prostate cancer is often detected during routine screening with tests such as a digital rectal exam, urinalysis, and possibly a prostate specific antigen test by their healthcare professional. This is particularly true of men with early stage prostate cancer, but may also be true of men with more advanced cancer.
Some of these prostate cancer symptoms are more common than others and tend to occur in more localized prostate cancer while others are more likely to occur in men whose prostate cancer has spread or metastasized to other parts of the body. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult your healthcare provider immediately.
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound
HIFU is sometimes used to treat men and anyone with a prostate with localised prostate cancer that has not spread beyond their prostate.
An ultrasound probe inserted into the rectum releases high-frequency sound waves through the wall of the rectum. These sound waves kill cancer cells in the prostate gland by heating them to a high temperature.
The risk of side effects from HIFU is usually lower than other treatments.
However, possible effects can include impotence or urinary incontinence . Back passage problems are rare.
Fistulas are also rare, affecting less than 1 in every 500. This is because the treatment targets the cancer area only and not the whole prostate.
However, HIFU treatment is still going through clinical trials for prostate cancer. In some cases, doctors can carry out HIFU treatment outside of clinical trials. HIFU is not widely available and its long-term effectiveness has not yet been conclusively proven.
Read further information:
- Cancer Research UK: high intensity focused ultrasound for prostate cancer
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Bph And Other Conditions
There are other conditions that affect the prostate that can have similar symptoms as prostate cancer. Those conditions include benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis. BPH is a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland caused by aging, testosterone and genetics.
BPH is not cancer but has similar symptoms.
Another condition is prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate gland that occurs from bacterial infection. Roughly half of all men will be affected by prostatitis during their lives.
Prognosis For Prostate Cancer
It is not possible for a doctor to predict the exact course of a disease, as it will depend on each person’s individual circumstances. However, your doctor may give you a prognosis, the likely outcome of the disease, based on the type of prostate cancer you have, the test results, the rate of tumour growth, as well as your age, fitness and medical history.
Prostate cancer often grows slowly and even more aggressive types tend to grow more slowly than other types of cancer. If diagnosed early, prostate cancer has one of the highest five year survival rates.
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