Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. It affects the prostate, the gland located under the bladder and in front of the rectum that helps produce semen and allows sperm to move more effectively, among other functions. Although prostate cancer can be life-threatening, it often spreads slowly and requires only minimal treatment. When confined to the prostate gland, it can usually be treated effectively, making early detection crucial.
Risks Factors for Prostate Cancer
The specific cause of prostate cancer is unknown, although it is believed to be a combination of hereditary, hormonal and environmental factors. Certain factors may cause men to be at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer, including the following:
- Age of 65 and older
- Family history of prostate cancer
- Diet high in fat and sugar
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Many patients with prostate cancer do not experience any noticeable symptoms while the disease is in its early stages. As the disease progresses, patients may experience the following:
- Trouble urinating
- Slowed urine stream
- Starting and stopping while urinating
- Blood in the urine
- Swelling in legs
- Bone pain
- Loss of appetite or weight
These symptoms are often not related to cancer, but to infections or other health problems. A patient should notify his doctor at the first sign of any symptoms.
Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer
In addition to a physical examination, there are several tests that doctors use to diagnose prostate cancer:
- Digital rectal exam
- Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test
Treatment of Prostate Cancer
Treatment for prostate cancer is most successful when the disease is identified at an early stage, before it has spread to other areas. The best treatment method varies depending on the age and overall health of the patient, grade of the tumor and stage of the cancer.
With an early diagnosis of prostate cancer, active surveillance may be suggested. During active surveillance, prostate cancer is carefully monitored for signs of progression.
Chemotherapy may be used to treat prostate cancer. Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the cells from dividing and the growth of the tumor.
Radiation therapy is an effective option for treating prostate cancer. Radiation is used to target the infected area of the prostate.
The hormone testosterone serves as the main fuel for prostate cancer cell growth. Hormone therapy is used to stop testosterone from being released or to prevent it from acting on the prostate cells.
Surgery may be recommended to treat severe cases of prostate cancer. The doctor removes the tumor through an open or laparoscopic procedure, which may include removing all or part of the prostate.
In some cases, doctors may prescribe a combination treatment plan, which uses several of the treatment options listed above.
Prevention of Prostate Cancer
Although prostate cancer cannot be prevented, patients can reduce their risk of developing the disease by maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. Diet and lifestyle changes have also been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer development and progression, and can help men with prostate cancer live longer and more productive lives.