Prostate Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments & More
As the name suggests, prostate cancer is cancer occurring in the prostate gland in males.
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized organ in men located between the penis & the bladder. This gland is responsible for producing the seminal fluid that further nourishes & transfers sperm. It also secretes a type of protein that ensures the liquid texture of semen. The prostate gland also plays role in urination control assistance.
Prostate cancer develops from gland cells. Reportedly, Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly found cancers among males after skin cancer. However, if it is discovered or diagnosed in its early satages, it has more chances of being treated. You may be surprised to know that some Prostate cancers grow slow while some spread very rapidly. The ones growing slow may only need moderate treatment while the latter ones need to be treated aggressively.
Do you know? 1/9 males may opt for prostate cancer diagnosis throughout their life. Luckily, only 1/41 of them may die with Prostate Cancer as a cause.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
No symptoms are visible in the early stages of prostate cancer unless screening is performed. This screening test usually measures PSA levels in the blood. Lower PSA levels mean negative whereas higher PSA levels signal cancer presence.
Prostate cancer patients experience common symptoms in the initial stages & advanced ones as the cancer stage progresses. Prostate Cancer Medicines are available for men once the symptoms are diagnosed.
• Difficulty in attaining & sustaining erections
• Painful ejaculation sometimes
• Difficulty in initiating & maintaining urination
• Pain during urination
• More frequent urge to urinate
• Bleeding in urine or semen
• Discomfort or painful sitting experience because of an enlarged prostate
• Erectile Dysfunction
• Losing weight
• Hip, thigh, or shoulder bone fracture or nominal pain
• Bowel movement changes
• Body pain
Causes of Prostate Cancer
The causes of prostate cancer grow with the changes in glandular cells.
Generally, the cancer cells or precancerous cells developing in the prostate glands are known as prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia i.e. PIN. The ratio of PIN is around 50% in most men aging above 50 years.
These cells aren’t cancerous in the beginning, but as the condition advances, high-grade cells appear & grow faster.
Some of the most known causes are as below:
• Overweight or obese
• Smoking or drinking habits
• Prostate inflammation
• Chemical exposure
Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer
Understanding the risk factors helps you know what increases the risk of prostate cancer. Here are the four risk factors of prostate cancer:
For undetermined reasons, Black people are more likely to suffer from prostate cancer. And the possibility of prostate cancer is advanced & aggressive.
Mostly aged men face prostate cancer as the risk increases with age. However, the risk is less before at least 45 years of age, but more after 50.
• Family history
If you’re a direct descendant of someone with prostate cancer, like your parent or sibling, you may have a risk of having it too. The same concept applies to breast cancer too. If your mother or sibling has a history of breast cancer, you may have the risk of prostate cancer.
Obese people or heavy-weight males have more risk of suffering from prostate cancer. However, healthy weight people may have it too. Advanced prostate cancer can show up more in obese people.
4 Stages of Prostate Cancer & Treatment Options
Prostate cancer can be broadly categorized into four stages. They are as follows:
Stage #1 of Prostate Cancer
This is the initial stage of prostate gland cancer when the cancer cells haven’t spread past the prostate gland. According to research, this stage lasts for around 5 years in almost all men suffering from prostate cancer.
As prostate cancer is least advanced here, the patient’s conditions are observed, monitored & suggested with a treatment option called radical prostatectomy. It is a surgical process that removes the prostate gland in men.
Stage #2 of Prostate Cancer
When prostate cancer reaches the second stage, it is still confined to your prostate only. This means that it hasn’t reached lymph nodes or other body parts. It may appear during your ultrasound imaging test. Stage two is further divided into Stage 2A, Stage 2B & Stage 2C.
The treatment options here include:
• Prostate gland removal along with the surrounding lymph nodes
• Hormone therapy + radiation therapy
• Radiation therapy like External beam and/or brachytherapy
Besides this, active surveillance is carried out during Stage 2B & Stage 2C.
Stage #3 of Prostate Cancer
The cancer cells are still spread within the prostate gland only. The chances of other body parts receiving cancer cells are still not found at this stage. Stage three is also breakdown into three sub-parts i.e. Stage 3A, Stage 3B & Stage 3C.
The treatment options for stage three of prostate cancer include:
• External beam radiation plus hormone therapy
• Radiation plus hormone therapy
• Removing pelvic lymph nodes, radiation therapy & hormone therapy
Usually, active surveillance is not conducted at this stage as the risk of the disease still prevails without treatment.
Stage #4 of Prostate Cancer
As you can assume easily, Stage four is the last stage of prostate cancer. The cancer cells that haven’t spread to other body parts now start spreading across them too. The survival chances that were 100% at stage one now drop to 30% only. Like other stages, stage 4 also has two sub-parts i.e. Stage 4A and Stage 4B.
The following treatment options are available for men suffering from Stage four of prostate cancer:
• Hormone therapy
• Prostate gland removal or surgery
• External beam radiation
• In case if the cancer cells have spread to bone tissues, Radiation targeting bones therapy
What is the diagnosis procedure for Prostate Cancer?
After reading all this about Prostate cancer, you may be wondering about the diagnosis procedure carried out for the underlying disease. Here are the major tests that reveal prostate cancer in men:
1. Prostate Cancer Detection Tests
- Digital Rectal Exam – A type of test used to check the prostate
- Prostate-specific Antigen Blood Test – A test that detects levels of prostate cancer & conditions like prostatitis or enlarged prostate
2. Prostate Ultrasound & Biopsy
3. Cystoscopy or Bladder Scope Test – A test for measuring the health of the urethra & bladder
4. CAT Scans – A test for swollen or enlarged lymph nodes that detects cancer cells spread.
Possible Complications among Prostate Cancer Patients
When the prostate gland starts functioning abnormally due to Prostate Cancer, several forms of the tumor are experienced. Here are the possible complications among prostate cancer patients usually observed:
1. Erectile Dysfunction
2. Urinary Incontinence
4. Severe pain to the bones
The Bottom Line
Men who are suffering from prostate cancer should not lose hope. Effective prostate medicines are also available today. However, men with prostate cancer can still live a long life after they have been diagnosed with the disease.
As per the American Cancer Society, if prostate cancer cells haven’t spread to other organs, the survival rate is 100% for men for 5 years. Prostate cancer is slow-growing & harmless. So, if you see any symptoms, don’t forget to visit your doctor as soon as possible.