The number of prostate cancer cases and deaths are increasing only. According to 2020 data from the GLOBOCAN database of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), prostate cancer ranks third among the top ten cancers. This created much concern among the scientists and physicians all over the world.
According to current statistics, 7.3% of people in the world are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year and 3.8% of them die in advanced stages. In many cases these cancers grow slowly at first and are not easily diagnosed at an early stage. However, the rapidly spreading metastatic prostate cancer cases are almost impossible to control and treat.
What is prostate cancer?
The prostate is a vital gland located in the male body. This walnut-shaped, just one ounce gland surrounds the urethra, just below the bladder. If the prostate gland grows more than its usual size, the person’s normal urination gets disrupted. Attached to this gland are the seminal vesicles, from which the secreted fluid combines with the secretion of the prostate gland and produces semen. Tumors are formed when the cells of the prostate gland begin to grow uncontrollably. This tumor can also spread to the seminal vesicles. However, this tumor may be benign or malignant. In medical terms, the cases where the prostate gland grows abnormally is also called benign prostatic hyperplasia. Slight pain, discomfort and fever are the common problems of benign prostatic hyperplasia and they can be overcome with the help of medicine. However, malignant tumors of prostate cancer also called “metastatic prostate cancer” are difficult to treat, as the prostate cancer cells reach other parts of the body through the bloodstream and form new tumors in vital organs.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
There are no specific symptoms of prostate cancer in the early stages. However, as the cancer progresses, the following symptoms commonly appears:
1) Frequent urination at night.
2) Obstruction occurs while urinating.
3) Weak and scattered urination.
4) Pain and burning sensation during urination and ejaculation.
5) Blood in urine and semen.
6) Pain in groin, thighs and lower back.
6) Weight loss and loss of appetite.
What causes prostate cancer?
- Studies have shown that in elderly men (over the age of 55), the DNA of the prostate gland cell starts to damage resulting in various mutations. Under the influence of such mutations, the number of cells in the prostate gland grows uncontrollably leading to prostate cancer.
- Excessive smoking increases the risk of prostate cancer.
- People with obesity also have a higher risk of prostate cancer.
- Prostate cancer is more common in African-Americans, but less common in Hispanics and Asians.
- If someone in the family has a history of prostate cancer, another member may have the disease.
- Consuming more sugar and animal fat also increases the risk of prostate cancer.
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
Physicians can usually diagnose cancers of the prostate by measuring the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) through blood test and performing a digital rectal examination (DRE). However, ultrasonography, CT scan and MRI scan are performed for the confirmation. Besides, ‘Prostate biopsy’ is done to understand the actual stage of prostate cancer.
How is prostate cancer treated?
Treatment is started by understanding the patient’s age, health and other comorbidity factors. Identifying the different stages and classes of prostate cancer is prerequisite to start the proper treatment strategies. e.g.,
- Radiotherapy destroys cancer cells. However, radiotherapy has its side effects as the neighbouring healthy cells also get affected during such therapy.
- In many cases, prostate cancer is treated using cancer drugs (chemotherapy) in various combinations of radiotherapy.
- Prostate tumors are surgically removed if necessary. Elderly patients or those who have difficulty with surgery for any reason are given ‘cryotherapy’ or ‘cryoblastation’. This involves inserting a special probe into the prostate tumor to lower the temperature and destroy the cancer cells in a specific way. However, in some cases after surgery, the patient may experience symptoms such as infection, metastatic spread, erectile dysfunction, etc.
- It is possible to reduce prostate tumors with the help of hormone therapy.
- Modern treatments include prostate cancer vaccines and immunotherapy.
Living a healthy life is essential to prevent prostate cancer. It is necessary to give up the habit of heavy drinking, smoking etc. and instead include a balanced and healthy diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish etc. in daily life. Besides, Whole grains, low-fat foods need to be eaten more. Importantly, remember that prostate cancer can be cured at an early stage.
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