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Little Did We Know That Prostate Cancer is the Most Common Non-Skin Cancer Amongst Men
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer, overtaking lung cancer as the leading cancer affecting all men, followed by colon cancer.
Statistical, 80 percent occurs in men older than 65 years. Although this cancer can also occur in younger people, it is very rare in people under the age of 50. As men age, the prostate can develop problems.
Annually, one in six American men will develop it during their lifetime. We didn’t know that a man is 33% more likely to get prostate cancer than a woman is to get breast cancer.
In 2004, an estimated 234,000 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the United States. This makes it the most common cancer among American men, second only to skin cancer. More than 27,000 deaths from prostate cancer are expected to occur annually.
One new case every 2 1/2 minutes. One new case every 150 seconds.
While in the UK almost 35,000 men are diagnosed and around 10,000 men die from it each year. This means that more than one person dies every hour in the UK.
Today, about two million men are battling prostate cancer, and over the next decade, when baby boomer men reach the target age of maturity for prostate cancer, about three million more will be forced to join the fight. By 2012, the number of new cases in the US is estimated to increase to more than 300,000 new cases per year by 2012.
One new case every 100 seconds. One man dead every 13 minutes.
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a male sex gland, the size of a walnut, located behind the pubic bone in front of the rectum, which includes the lower part of the bladder. The tube that carries urine (the urethra) passes through the prostate. At birth, the size of the gland is as small as a pea and continues to grow until the age of 20 when a man reaches adulthood. Male hormones (called androgens) are responsible for this growth. The size of the gland will not change until age 45, when it begins to grow again.
Its primary function is to produce a thick fluid that nourishes sperm, as well as helping to propel sperm through the urethra and out of the penis to reach and fertilize an egg. Although the prostate is not a primary component of the urinary tract, it is very important to urinary tract health.
In older men, the part of the prostate gland around the urethra may continue to grow. This causes BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) which causes problems with urination. BPH is a problem that must be treated, but it is not cancer.
What is prostate cancer?
The body consists of different types of cells. Normally, cells grow, divide and then die. Sometimes cells mutate and start growing and dividing faster than usual. Instead of dying, these abnormal cells accumulate and form tumors. If these tumors are cancerous or so-called malignant tumors, they can attack and kill healthy tissues in the body. From these tumors, cancer cells can metastasize (spread) and form new tumors in other parts of the body. On the contrary, non-cancerous tumors or so-called benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body.
It is abnormal cells that grow out of control forming small nodules or nodules (excessive tissue) on the surface of the prostate gland. In some cases, the excessive tissue is benign and this condition is called prostate Benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH). In other cases, abnormal cancerous cells are characterized by excessive tissue growth, and this is called malignancy or prostate cancer.
Because it is in close proximity to the bladder, a prostate disorder can interfere with urination and cause bladder or kidney problems. It is also located right next to the nerves responsible for erection, so it can interfere with sexual function.
Although more than 70% of all cases are diagnosed in men over the age of 65, doctors recommend that every man over the age of 50 get a PSA test and a rectal exam. According to statistics, African Americans have almost twice the incidence rate of prostate cancer than white Americans, so they should start getting tested at age 40. The same applies if you have
One-third of men over the age of 50 have some cancer cells within the prostate, and almost all men over the age of 80 have a small area of prostate cancer. In most men, these tumors grow extremely slowly, especially in older men, and will never cause problems. Even without treatment, many of them will not die of prostate cancer, but who will live and die of some other unrelated cause before the disease takes its toll.
However, like most types of cancer, if left untreated, prostate cancer can be aggressive, grow faster, and can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, especially lymph nodes or bones. This makes treatment much more difficult.
What are the symptoms?
Prostate cancer often does not cause any symptoms for years. When symptoms do occur, usually the cancer cells have spread beyond the prostate, which is why regular checkups are necessary and recommended for men age 40 and older. Symptoms include:
- Urinary problems:
- Dull pain in the lower part of the pelvis, hips or upper thighs
- Inability to urinate
- A feeling that your bladder is not emptying
- Difficulty starting or stopping the flow of urine
- Urgent urination problems and difficulty starting
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Poor urine flow
- A stream of urine that starts and stops
- Pain or burning during urination
- Difficulty with erection
- Pain during ejaculation
- Pain in the genitals
- Blood in urine or semen
Note: Other health problems such as urinary infections or inflammation; bladder problems or kidney stones can cause exactly the same symptoms. Therefore, if these symptoms appear and are accompanied by blood in the urine, painful ejaculation and general pain in the lower back, hips and legs, significant weight loss – you must inevitably visit your urologist for a thorough examination.
Who is at risk?
Risk factors consistently associated with prostate cancer include:
- Age: After the age of 50, the possibility of development is greater. More than 80 percent of all occur in men older than 65 years.
- race: African Americans have a 60% higher risk than whites, including Hispanics
- Ethnicity: It is more common in North America and northwestern Europe, and occurs less frequently in Asia, Africa, Central America and South America.
- Family history: There seems to be a genetic link. Having a family history of prostate cancer, a father or brother with the disease, doubles a man’s risk of developing cancer. A man whose brother had prostate cancer has a 4.5 times higher risk, and a 2.5 times higher risk if his father had it.
- Vasectomy: Men who have had a vasectomy (surgery that makes them sterile) may be at increased risk.
- Men who have diabetes have a lower risk of developing the disease, although no one really knows why.
How to prevent?
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to reduce the risk of all forms of cancer:
- Diet: The results of most studies show that a diet rich in animal fat and poor in fresh fruits and vegetables increases the chances of developing prostate cancer.
- Studies show that a diet high in lycopene (found in higher amounts in colorful fruits and vegetables), selenium, goji berries, broccoli and turmeric can reduce the risk.
- Exercise: Maintaining a healthy weight with regular physical activity can reduce the risk.
- Get plenty of rest – regular sleep is important for overall health.
How is prostate cancer detected?
There are three common methods of review:
Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)
Digital rectal examination as part of an annual physical examination in men age 50 or older (and in younger men who are at increased risk). During this test, the doctor inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities. Although a rectal examination can be a bit uncomfortable, it is done quickly.
Blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA)
PSA is a blood test that measures a protein in prostate cells. The American Cancer Society recommends testing once a year for men over age 50 and for younger men at higher risk of prostate cancer.
Scores below 4 are usually considered normal. Scores above 10 are considered high. Values between 4 and 10 are considered borderline. The higher the PSA level, the higher the chance of prostate cancer.
The test needs to be additionally confirmed with a biopsy because the PSA test cannot be used as an infallible test:
- 2 out of 3 men with high PSA values do not show cancerous cells in a prostate biopsy.
- 1 in 5 men with prostate cancer will have a normal PSA result.
Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS)
A TRUS will be done if the digital rectal exam or PSA levels are abnormal. The probe is inserted into the rectum and images are taken using sound waves to create an image of the prostate. The test is usually performed in an outpatient setting and usually takes less than 30 minutes. Based on the results of these examinations, additional tests may be recommended.
A positive biopsy is required to confirm the diagnosis. If the biopsy finds cancer, additional tests are done to see if it has spread to other organs:
- Blood tests– can be taken to see if the cancer has spread
- Bone scan– to determine whether the cancer has spread to the bones
- CT scan– a series of X-ray images of the pelvis or abdomen, often used to determine general signs of disease
- X-ray of the chest– to determine whether the cancer has spread to the lungs
- MRI– magnetic resonance imaging to detect cancer in lymph nodes and other internal organs
What is the usual treatment for prostate cancer?
There are several treatments for prostate cancer: they include surgery, radiotherapy and various forms of drug treatment. Hormonal therapy is usually used. It blocks the action of testosterone, the sex hormone that prostate cancer needs to grow.
Three treatment options are generally accepted for men with localized
- Radical prostatectomy: Surgical procedure to remove the entire prostate and surrounding tissues. In some cases, lymph nodes in the pelvic area are also removed. This procedure is performed with a nerve-sparing surgical procedure that can prevent damage to the nerves needed for an erection. However, nerve-sparing surgery is not always possible.
- Radiation therapy: Energy use for the prostate using external beam radiation. Patients with high-risk prostate cancer are candidates for adding hormone therapy to standard radiation therapy.
- Active surveillance may be an option recommended for patients with early-stage prostate cancer, particularly those who have low-grade tumors with only a small amount of cancer seen on biopsy.
Are there side effects?
As with any other disease, treatment can lead to side effects. The most worrisome side effects are impotence or erectile dysfunction and incontinence.
Researchers still don’t fully understand what causes prostate cancer or how it develops—and they urgently need to improve current treatments.
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