Prostate cancer is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells in the prostate glands. The prostate gland secretes essential fluids that protect sperm and keep them healthy. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer affecting the male population, and about one in nine men are diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
Types of Prostate Tumors
Adenocarcinoma, cancer that affects gland cells, is the most common type of prostate cancer. Other rare types of prostate cancer include:
- Small cell carcinomas
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Carcinoid tumors
- Transitional cell carcinomas
Depending upon the growth rate of the tumor, they can be classified into two types:
Fast-growing or aggressive
Slow growing or non-aggressive
Aggressive prostate cancer is dangerous as it multiplies rapidly and spreads to other parts of the body.
Causes of Prostate Cancer
There are no clear explanations on what exactly causes the cancerous growth of cells in the prostate glands. Genetic predisposition and mutations are two such factors believed to play a role in the development of prostate cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
In the nascent stages of prostate cancer, signs and symptoms are rarely observed. However, as the cancer progresses, the following signs and symptoms may be observed:
- Frequent urination, mostly at night
- Dysuria (painful urination)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Painful ejaculation
- Blood in the urine (hematuria) or semen (hematospermia)
- Pain in the lower back, pelvis, or hips
Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer
Following are some risk factors for developing prostate cancer:
- Age: The chances of being diagnosed with prostate cancer increase with age. Most cases are diagnosed in individuals above the age of 60 years.
- Ethnicity: Dark-skinned individuals are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Family history
- Genetic changes
Diagnosis and Tests for Prostate Cancer
Before recommending diagnostic tests, doctors usually evaluate a patient’s medical history, symptoms, and associated risk factors. The following tests can be performed for diagnosing prostate cancer:
Digital rectal examination
In this test, a healthcare provider will insert their gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to assess any possible tumors on the prostate gland.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test
This blood test detects and estimates the amount of PSA, a protein produced by the prostate gland. Abnormal levels in the blood may indicate prostate cancer.
This test involves the removal of a small amount of tissue from the prostate gland for tumor assessment. In addition to the above tests, diagnostic scans like computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging may also be performed.
Treatment and Care for Prostate Cancer
The doctor will recommend appropriate therapy based on certain factors like age of the patient, severity or stage of the cancer, and health status of the patient. If the prostate cancer is non-aggressive, the patient would be put under active surveillance to monitor cancer development. For aggressive cancer, therapy will include one or more of the following:
- Hormone therapy
- Radiation therapy Surgery
The following lifestyle modifications could be adopted to reduce the risks of prostate cancer:
- Avoid foods known to increase the risk of prostate cancer like red meat, dairy products, grilled meat, etc.
- Include tomatoes, fish, soy, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and foods rich in omega-3-fatty acids in the diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Quit smoking.
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