Being diagnosed with any type of serious illness or condition can change the life of a person totally. His/her attitude towards life becomes unusual, same in the case of prostate cancer, which can be a life-altering experience. This cancer type is like a bomb that has bombarded into the life of a man. Basically, prostate is a gland that is found only in males and is located in front of the rectum and below the urinary bladder. Its size varies with age because younger men have a walnut sized prostate, whereas the size becomes larger in older men.
What prostate cancer is?
Prostate cancer is the cancer of a man’s prostate, which is a gland of the male reproductive system that helps in nourishing and transporting sperm. Generally, the development of this condition is a slow process, but some grows fast. During the initial stages, prostate cancer doesn’t cause any symptoms, but when prostate cancer begins to grow quickly and starts spreading outside the prostate, and then the condition may be dangerous.
It has been studied by the researchers that men with prostate cancer don’t know that they have the disease because of no symptoms until it is in an advanced stage. Various men who die with prostate cancer mainly die of other causes like heart disease. But, if prostate cancer is diagnosed in its early stages, then the chances of survival becomes higher. Reports have stated that about 85% of American men with prostate cancer get diagnosed with early stage of the disease.:
The cause for prostate cancer is unknown, but doctors say that prostate cancer begins when cells in your prostate become abnormal. It means that the mutations in abnormal cells cause the cells to grow and divide unnaturally. These abnormal cells are at the initial stage, if they are present only in the prostate, but when these abnormal cells form a tumor and grow to invade nearby tissue then the risk increases.
Who are at risk of developing prostate cancer?
There are certain risk factors that may predispose a person to prostate cancer. These are as follows:
- Age- Age plays an important role in the development of prostate cancer. It is a fact that more than 60% of cases of prostate cancer arise in men over 65 years of age, whereas the illness is rare in men under the age of 40 years.
- Race or ethnicity- As compared to Asian and Hispanic men, African-American men are at increased risk of diagnosing with prostate cancer.
- Family history- Men are at risk of developing prostate cancer, if the disease has existed in their families. For example, if the first degree relation like a father or brother has or had prostate cancer, then the man is at risk of this disease.
- Nationality- Reports have proved that prostate cancer is more common in North America, northwestern countries in Europe, and the Caribbean as compared to the Asian, and South and Central Americans. Factors like diet and lifestyle, may account for this condition.
Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer in men:
In early stages it has been found that prostate cancer may not cause signs and symptoms, but in the advanced stages prostate cancer may cause symptoms in men. Below are some of the common signs and symptoms of prostate cancer in men:
- Urge to urinate
- Finding trouble in urinating
- Constant urination
- Pain during urination and ejaculation
- Amount of blood in the urine or semen
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heartbeat
These are few signs and symptoms of the condition, but you have to rush to the nearest hospital whenever you experience deep bone pain, in the back, hips, or thighs because these may be the alarming situation and the possible signs of advanced prostate cancer that has spread to the bones. Moreover, delaying your trip to the hospital after experiencing any of the above mentioned signs and symptoms of prostate cancer then it may result in damaging your spinal cord permanently.
To diagnose the condition of prostate cancer, your doctor may perform various tests including digital rectal exams (DRE), prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, transrectal ultrasound, biopsy, and transrectal biopsy. After determining the presence of cancer through these tests and processes, the next step is staging them. Staging is done after studying the tissue samples and cancer cells with the healthy prostate cells. As per the aggression of the cells they are staged, accordingly.
Generally, staging the prostate cancer involves four stages. The initial stage signifies the early cancer, which means that the small area of the prostate is affected, whereas the later stages are considered complicated because here the cells are much more aggressive as compared to the early stages. After staging the cancer, your doctor may check your overall health to determine that your body will respond to the treatment or not. If your doctor finds your condition suitable for treatment, then he/she may perform the following options:
Surgery is the initial treatment of prostate cancer, which may be performed only when the tumor is in the prostate gland. Basically, it helps in removing the tumor from the prostates. The following treatment of prostate cancer includes:
- Retropubic prostatectomy- Operation is performed by the surgeon who removes the nearby lymph nodes. Retropubic prostatectomy surgery helps in preventing the spread of disease.
- Perineal prostatectomy– This surgery removes the lymph nodes and the surgeon makes an incision in the perineum, which is the area between scrotum and anus.
Radiation therapy is another treatment option of prostate cancer where high-powered energy kills cancer cells by delivering the radiation to the prostates. Frequent, painful, and urgent urination are some of the side effects of this treatment. Moreover, side effects may also include rectal symptoms like loose stools or pain when passing stools.
Hormone therapy is the treatment option of prostate cancer, where surgeon stops the body from producing male hormone, testosterone. During this therapy, the doctor cut off the hormones supply, which causes cancer cells to die or to grow slowly. Common side effects of this treatment include erectile dysfunction, low libido, loss of bone mass, and weight gain.
Chemotherapy uses any one or combination of cancer-fighting drugs. This therapy is recommended by the doctor in cases of advanced prostate cancer that has not responded to hormone treatment. Basically, chemotherapy process kills the growing cancer cells rapidly. Some of the common side-effects of chemotherapy include hair loss, loss of appetite, infertility (a permanent side effect), nausea and vomiting.
Side effects like nausea and vomiting can be controlled by some medications, although it may take some time. Generally, side effects of chemotherapy will go away when the treatment stops.
Tips to prevent prostate cancer:
You may follow various tips that may reduce your risk of prostate cancer. These are mentioned below:
- Diet factors- Healthy eating is recommended by the doctors to lead a perfect life. Eating a healthy diet can lower the risk of certain cancers. Studies have found that foods containing lycopene and selenium reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Lycopene may be found in tomatoes and tomato based foods, whereas selenium is a natural chemical that can be found in plant foods like vegetables, fish, Brewer’s yeast, some meats, grains, shellfish, eggs, and wheat germ.
- Aspirin- Evidences and reports have suggested that taking aspirin regularly may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Important tip to keep in mind, that doctors don’t recommend aspirin regularly, as these may damage the lining of stomach and cause bleeding. So, before taking aspirin take the recommendation of the doctor.