Prostate cancer is a cancer that forms in the male reproductive gland called the prostate gland. According the National Cancer Institute, there have been 192,280 new prostate cancer cases reported in the United States in 2009, with deaths directly attributable to the disease totaling 27,360. This cancer affects 1 in 6 men and is the most common non-skin cancer. While the largest percentage of men who are diagnosed with the disease are over the age of 65 all men should be aware of its risks and the diet an lifestyle factors that put them at risk of developing the disease.
While more than 70 percent of those diagnose with prostate cancer are over the age of 65, a disproportionate amount of these men are African American. This dramatic difference in the number of incidents of prostate cancer, in different demographics, has been observed in various populations, which suggests that genetics and dietary factors may increase one's risk of developing the cancer. However, the scientific research has not being conclusive in explaining this anomaly.
Common Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
As a result of the fact that the prostate surrounds the urethra, any increase in its size can cause some problems with urinations, erections or ejaculation. However, having these symptoms is not a positive diagnosis of prostate cancer. A common condition, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can also cause these symptoms. While BPH is not a cancer or a threat to life, it can be treated with medicine or surgery to relieve the symptoms. If the cancer is caught early most men wont experience any of the common symptoms of having an enlarged prostate. Here are some common prostate cancer symptoms:
Â· A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
Â· Difficulty starting or stopping urination
Â· Weak urine flow
Â· Painful or burning urination
Â· Difficulty in having an erection
Â· Painful ejaculation
Â· Blood in the urine or semen; or
Â· Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.
Screening and diagnosis
Screening for prostate cancer can be done in a physician's office using a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test or a digital rectal exam (DRE). During a DRE the physician inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to check for any irregularity in the texture, size or shape of prostate. The procedure is usually pain free, if the prostate is not enlarge or cancerous.
Prostate specific antigen is a protein that is produced by the prostate and released in small amounts into the bloodstream. When the prostate develops a problem, more and more PSA is released until is reaches a level where it can be easily detected by a PSA blood test. PSA levels are usually rated as follows:
Â· Results under 4 ng/mL - normal
Â· Results between 4 and 10 ng/mL - intermediate
Â· Results greater than 10 ng/mL - high
If the PSA test raises suspicion that prostate cancer is present or if the test is inconclusive, a biopsy of the prostate can be used to confirm the presence of prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Treatment Options
Should the presence of prostate cancer be confirmed, the patient has several prostate cancer treatment options to choose from. The best prostate cancer treatment depends on several factors such as the age of the patient, how advanced the cancer is and whether the cancer has spread. In any case these are the generally accepted methods of treating prostate cancer:
Radical prostatectomy â Radical prostatectomy is most often use for aggressive prostate cancer. This is a procedure used to completely remove the prostate and some surrounding tissues, if the surgeon believes this will reduce the risk of the cancer reoccurring. Read more...
Cryotherapy â This is a minimal invasion cancer treatment method that freezes the prostate with the hope of completely destroying the cancer cells within. The recovery time for this procedure is very short, with most patients being able to move about the same day that the procedure. Read more...
Brachytherapy â Brachytherapy uses localized radiation to kill the cancer cells over a period of months as in the case where the permanent seeds implant method is used. A HDR (high dose radiation) option might also be used. This is also a minimal invasion option. Read more...
Androgen deprivation therapy (Hormone Therapy) â Prostate cancer requires the presence of the male hormone androgen to grow. By depriving the cancer cells of this hormone, the growth of the cancer can be slowed down but not stopped. Androgen deprivation can also be accomplished by orchiectomy (surgical castration) or by using hormone therapy such as Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) antagonists to suppress the production of androgen. Read more...
In cases where the patient has another, more serious, life-threatening disease or the patient's life expectancy is relatively short or his health could by made worst if the cancer is treated, a watchful waiting option might be considered. Men may also elect for watchful waiting when the cancer is not aggressive or the he is fearful of undergoing treatment. In any case, the cancer's progress is monitored by the doctor, hence the term watchful waiting. Read more...
Between 10 and 22 percent of men who have prostate cancer use herbal preparations to treat the cancer. However, men using this treatment option do experience some side effects too. Read more...