Men usually have a walnut sized gland at the base of the bladder. It forms part of the male reproductive system. This gland is called the prostrate gland. It surrounds the upper part of the urethra- the tube that transports urine from the bladder. It produces a thick and clear fluid that is a composite of the semen. Prostrate cancer is a cancer that starts at the prostrate gland. Prostrate cancer is the most common type of cancer, aside skin cancer, suffered by American men. Research has shown that prostrate cancer cases are rare in African, Asian and Latin American men. This disease is not common in men who are below 50 years.
Prostrate cancer becomes very life threatening when it starts to spread beyond the prostrate gland. It is said to be in the early stage when it is limited to the prostrate gland. Prostrate cancer cannot be cured when it has grown beyond the prostrate; however, it can be managed for up to five years or more; as a result of advanced treatment. Records have shown that certain men with advanced prostrate cancer, live a normal life only to die of other related ailments like heart disease. 80% cases of prostrate cancer are found in men who are 65 years and beyond, while 1% cases are found in men who are below 50 years.
Symtoms of prostrate cancer
Early prostrate cancer has no symptoms, but the following symptoms can be observed if it has spread from the gland to other parts of the body:
- bloody urine or semen
- frequent urination mostly at night
- painful or burning feeling during ejaculation or urination
- difficulties in commencing or ending urination
- difficulty in urinating while standing up
- a weakened urinary system
- leakage of urine during laughter or coughing
- a sense of inability to totally empty the bladder
Causes of prostrate Cancer
The tendency to contract prostrate cancer is high in men who have a family history of the disease. Experts do not know the root cause of prostrate cancer; however, the ailment is associated with a diet that contains lots of fats derived from red meat. Also, meat that is cooked with high temperature produces cancer causing agents. This explains why the disease is prevalent in regions where there is a high consumption of meat and diary products.
The consumption of fats also steps up the production of testosterone in the body. Testosterone on the the other hand, accelerates the development of prostrate cancer.
A lack of exercise can boost the development of prostrate cancer.
Prostrate cancer is also connected with jobs in which workers come in contact with the metal cadmium, also with manufacturers and workers who handle rubber.
To test for cancer, patients go through a prostrate-specific antigen (PSA) test or digital rectal exam(DRE). Your doctor will carry out a biopsy confirmation. A biopsy involves the insertion of a thin hollow needle through your rectum and gather about twelve dozen tissues of prostrate. It takes about 10 minutes to carry out a biopsy. The collected tissues are sent to a pathologist for further examination. The pathologist examines the tissues under a microscope and uses the Gleason scoring system to grade the disease if cancer is discovered. This system uses the numbers 1 – 5 for the gradation:
- Grade 1: Tissues resemble normal cells of the prostrate
- Grade 2 – 4: The cells that score higher look far abnormal when compared to normal ones and more likely to grow rapidly. The ones that score lower look more normal and less likely to spread.
- Grade 5: Majority of the cells look abnormal
This test score is calculated by adding the most common or primary patterns with the second most common or secondary patterns to form a score. Score 6 is the lowest score for cancer. This is a low-grade cancer. A medium grade cancer carries a score of 7; while a score of 8, 9 or 10 is high grade cancer. A higher Gleason score is a pointer to rapid spreading cancer.
Staging of prostrate cancer
Unlike grading, which tells you the rate at which prostrate cancer spreads, staging tells you how advanced the cancer has become. Many doctors use the TNM (tumor, nodes, metastasis) system.
The tumor stage determines the location and size of the tumor. The node stage is used to ascertain if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes near the bladder. The metastasis stage is used to find out if the cancer has spread to other organs or the bones.
Doctors group and stage prostrate cancer by adding the TNM results, Gleason score and the PSA levels. This process is called stage grouping. The results are expressed in roman numerals i – iv.
At this stage, the tumor is contained in the prostrate gland and it has not spread. It has a Gleason score of 6 or less. During a digital rectal exam,tumor may not be felt or seen during imaging tests.
The tumour in this stage is growing in the prostrate, but has developed to other organs. Gleason score is 7 or less and PSA level is less than 20. Tumor may or may not be detected during digital rectal exam or seen during imaging tests. Tumor makes contact with over half of one lobe, but not both lobes of the prostrate.
Tumor can show any Gleason score. It grows in the prostrate, but hasn’t spread to other organs. It can exist in one or both lobes of the prostrate. It may or may not be detected during digital rectal exam or seen during imaging test.
Cancer has developed outside the prostrate but it has not reached the lymph nodes or other organs of the body. The PSA may be any level and the Gleason score may be any score.
The cancer has developed from the prostrate and reached other organs like the liver, lungs, lymph nodes or bones. The Gleason result may be any score and the PSA may be any level.
Treatment of prostrate varies depending on the the size of the tumour and it’s stage, the rate at which it spreads, the state of your health, and personal choices. The following treatment options are available.
- Watchful waiting: Most prostrate cancer grow slowly. Doctors may advise a non treatment for this cancer and wait to see if it spreads. Your doctor keeps a watchful medical check on you to see if the cancer spreads.
- Bilogic therapy: Here doctors prescribe a treatment that functions with your immune system to eradicate the disease.
- Chemotherapy: This involves medication taken orally that help to kill cancers and shrink cancerous cells.
- Hormone therapy: This treatment helps to lower the hormones that contribute to the growth of cancerous cells or prevents the cells from using them.
- Radiation: This treatment option uses high waves of energy to kill cancerous cells and reduce the size of cancerous cells or tumors.
- Surgery: This involves cutting off all or part of the prostrate.
- Bisphosphonate therapy: This therapy involves the prescription of medication that help to ameliorate pain in situations where the cancer has spread to the bones.
Your doctor may recommend any of or a few combination of the above treatment options. After your prostrate cancer treatment, consult your doctor if any of the following occur:
- urinary difficulties
- a high fever
- excessive pain that cannot be quenched by pain relief medication
See also: Breast Cancer