Prostate cancer is a common type of cancer in males, it begins in the prostate –a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. it is highly treatable in the early stages.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect males in the United States. Usually, prostate cancer grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, while some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or even no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.
There are often no symptoms during the early stages of prostate cancer, but screening can indicate changes that can indicate cancer.
Prostate cancer that’s more advanced may cause signs and symptoms such as:
- Trouble urinating
- Decreased force in the stream of urine
- Blood in urine or semen
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Bone pain
- Erectile dysfunction
- A frequent urge to urinate.
- In some cases pain on ejaculation.
- Back pain
- Weight loss.
It’s not clear what causes prostate cancer.
Doctors know that prostate cancer begins when some cells in your prostate become abnormal. Mutations in the abnormal cells’ DNA cause the cells to grow and divide more rapidly than normal cells do. The abnormal cells continue living when other cells would die. The accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor that can grow to invade nearby tissue. Some abnormal cells can also break off and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
Factors that can increase your risk of prostate cancer include:
- Age. Your risk of prostate cancer increases as you age.
- For reasons not yet determined, black men carry a greater risk of prostate cancer than do men of other races. In black men, prostate cancer is also more likely to be aggressive or advanced.
- Family history. If men in your family have had prostate cancer, your risk may be increased. Also, if you have a family history of genes that increase the risk of breast cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA2) or a very strong family history of breast cancer, your risk of prostate cancer may be higher.
- Obesity. Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be more likely to have advanced disease that’s more difficult to treat.
Other possible factors
There is some evidence to suggest that other factors may play a role, but scientists need more evidence to confirm their involvement:
- exposure to chemicals, such as the herbicide Agent Orange
- inflammation of the prostate
- sexually transmitted infections
Complications of prostate cancer and its treatments include:
- Cancer that spreads (metastasizes). Prostate cancer can spread to nearby organs, such as your bladder, or travel through your bloodstream or lymphatic system to your bones or other organs. Prostate cancer that spreads to the bones can cause pain and broken bones. Once prostate cancer has spread to other areas of the body, it may still respond to treatment and may be controlled, but it’s unlikely to be cured.
- Both prostate cancer and its treatment can cause urinary incontinence. Treatment for incontinence depends on the type you have, how severe it is and the likelihood it will improve over time. Treatment options may include medications, catheters, and surgery.
- Erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction can result from prostate cancer or its treatment, including surgery, radiation or hormone treatments. Medications, vacuum devices that assist in achieving erection and surgery are available to treat erectile dysfunction.
You can reduce your risk of prostate cancer if you:
- Choose a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. Avoid high-fat foods and instead focus on choosing a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and nutrients that can contribute to your health.
Whether you can prevent prostate cancer through diet has yet to be conclusively proved. But eating a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables can improve your overall health.
- Exercise most days of the week. Exercise improves your overall health, helps you maintain your weight and improves your mood. There is some evidence that men who don’t exercise have higher PSA levels, while men who exercise may have a lower risk of prostate cancer.
- Try to exercise most days of the week. If you’re new to exercise, start slow and work your way up to more exercise time each day.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If your current weight is healthy, work to maintain it by exercising most days of the week. If you need to lose weight, add more exercise and reduce the number of calories you eat each day. Ask your doctor for help creating a plan for healthy weight loss.
- Talk to your doctor about the increased risk of prostate cancer. Men with a high risk of prostate cancer may consider medications or other treatments to reduce their risk.
Treatment will depend on the stage of cancer, for early-stage prostate cancer:
A prostatectomy is one possible treatment for early-stage prostate cancer. If the cancer is small and localized, a doctor may recommend:
Watchful waiting or monitoring
The doctor may check PSA blood levels regularly but take no immediate action.
Prostate cancer grows slowly, and the risk of side effects may outweigh the need for immediate treatment.
A surgeon may carry out a prostatectomy. They can remove the prostate gland using either laparoscopic or open surgery.
- Brachytherapy: A doctor will implant radioactive seeds into the prostate to deliver targeted radiation treatment.
- Conformal radiation therapy: This targets a specific area, minimizing the risk to healthy tissue. Another type, called intensity-modulated radiation therapy, uses beams with variable intensity.
Treatment will depend on various factors. A doctor will discuss the best option for the individual.
Advanced prostate cancer
As cancer grows, it can spread throughout the body. If it spreads, or if it comes back after remission, the treatment options will change.
- Chemotherapy: This can kill cancer cells around the body, but it can cause adverse effects.
- Hormonal therapy: Androgens are male hormones. The main androgens are testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. Blocking or reducing these hormones appears to stop or delay the growth of cancer cells. One option is to undergo surgery to remove the testicles, which produce most of the body’s hormones. Various drugs can also help.
Most doctors do not recommend surgery in the later stages, as it does not treat cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. However, some experts have suggested that it may help in some cases.
Some newer approaches aim to treat prostate cancer without the side effects that other treatment options can bring.
- high intensity focused ultrasound.