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Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland that is present in men, the function of the prostate is to produce the seminal fluid that nourishes and transport sperms. The cancer that develops in the prostate is called prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common type of cancer found in men. Prostate cancer grows slowly in its initial stages confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause any serious issue. However, some types of prostate cancer grow very slowly and may need minimal or even no treatment, while other types are aggressive and can spread too fast.

If a prostate cancer detected in its early stage- when it’s still confined to the prostate gland it has a better chance of successful treatment.

Symptoms of prostate cancer

You may experience no signs and symptoms initially or early stages of prostate cancer. The advanced stage of prostate cancer can show signs and symptoms include:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Decreased force in the stream of urine
  • Blood in semen
  • Discomfort in the pelvis area
  • Bone pain
  • Erectile dysfunction

Causes of prostate cancer

The causes of prostate cancer are not clear. It is known that prostate cancer starts developing when some cells in your prostate become abnormal. Mutations in abnormal cells’ DNA cause the cells to divide and grow more rapidly than the normal cells do. These abnormal cells continue living while other cells would die. Accumulating the abnormal cells form a tumor that can grow to include nearby tissue. Some abnormal cells can even break off and metastasize (spread) to the other body parts.

Risk factors of prostate cancer

The factors that can increase the risk of prostate cancer include:

Age: The risk of developing prostate cancer increases as the age increase.

Race: For reasons not yet decided, black men convey a more serious risk of prostate cancer growth than do men of different races. In black men, prostate cancer is additionally bound to be aggressive or advanced.

Family history: You are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer if any of the men in your family have had it. Additionally, if you have a family history of genes that increase the risk of developing breast cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA2) or having a very strong history of breast cancer, then the risk of developing prostate cancer may be higher.

Obesity: Men with obesity are diagnosed with prostate cancer can be more likely to have advanced disease that’s harder to treat.

Diagnosis of prostate cancer

Screening for prostate cancer- The prostate screening tests might include:

Digital rectal exam (DRE)- During this procedure, your doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum to examine the prostate, that is adjacent to the rectum. In case your doctor finds any abnormalities in the shape, size or texture of the gland, you may need further tests.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test- In this procedure, a blood sample from a vein in your arm is taken and analyzed for PSA (a substance that is naturally produced by the prostate gland). A higher amount of PSA indicates prostate infection, enlargement, inflammation, or cancer.

If any of the above-mentioned tests detect any abnormality, your doctor may recommend further tests to determine whether you have prostate cancer. These tests include:

Ultrasound: A transrectal ultrasound can be done to further evaluate the prostate. A probe of small size and shape is inserted into the rectum. This probe uses sound waves to create images of the prostate gland.

Collecting a sample from prostate tissue: It is also called as a prostate biopsy. In this procedure a sample of the cells from the prostate. It is often done by using a thin needle that is inserted into the prostate to collect the tissue sample. This tissue sample is analyzed in a lab to determine the cancer cells are present or not.

MRI fusion: While as yet being created around the world, MRI fusion to aid prostate biopsy and diagnosis is being used to an ever-increasing extent.

To determining that how far cancer has spread the following tests are done:

Treatment of prostate cancer

Immediate treatment– Immediate treatment may not be necessary, for the men who diagnosed with prostate cancer at low risk, treatment may not be necessary right away. Some men never need any treatment. Instead, sometimes doctors recommend active surveillance. Inactive surveillance, regular follow-up blood tests, rectal exams, and possibly biopsies can be done to monitor the progression of cancer. If these tests show that the cancer is progressing, you may opt for a treatment of prostate cancer such as surgery or radiation therapy.

Surgical removal of the prostate

Surgery for prostate cancer involves removing the prostate gland and some nearby tissue and a few lymph nodes. Radical prostatectomy may be performed in many ways:

  • Using a robot to assist with the surgery
  • Making an incision in the abdomen


Radical prostatectomy has a risk of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Ask your doctor to explain the risks that you may face based on the situation.

Radiation therapy- In this procedure, the cancer cells are killed by using high-powered energy. Radiation therapy for prostate cancer can be delivered in two ways:

External beam radiation- In this procedure, the radiation comes from outside your body. You will lie on the table and a machine moves around your body, directing high-powered energy beam such as protons or x-rays on prostate cancer.

Brachytherapy (Radiation is placed inside your body): This procedure involves placing many rice-sized radioactive seeds in the prostate tissue.  These radioactive seeds emit a low dose of radiation over a long period of time. The radioactive seeds are implanted by your doctor in your prostate using a needle guided by ultrasound images. These radioactive tracers don’t need to be removed they eventually stop emitting radiation.

Hormone therapy

The hormone therapy treatment is given to stop the production of the male hormone testosterone. By cutting off the supply of testosterone may cause cancer cells to grow more slowly and even die.

  • Medications and drugs that stop the growth of progesterone are given.
  • Orchiectomy: In this method, the testicles removed surgically, it reduces testosterone levels in your body.


Freezing prostate tissue

Cryosurgery or cryoablation include freezing tissue to kill the cancer cells.

During cryosurgery for prostate cancer, small needles are inserted in the prostate with the help of an ultrasound image as guidance. Very cool gas is placed in the needles, which causes surrounded tissue to freeze. After that, another gas is placed in the needles to reheat the tissue. This cycle of freezing kills the cancer cells and some surrounding healthy tissues.

This method is more frequently used by the men who have not been helped by radiation therapy. Cryosurgery’s initial attempts may result in high complication rates and unacceptable side effects. However, the latest technologies have low complication rates, improved cancer control, and made the procedure easier to tolerate. 

Chemotherapy

In chemotherapy drugs are given to kill the rapidly growing cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be injected via a vein in your arm, in pill form, or both.

Biological therapy

Biological therapy, also known as immunotherapy works by using your body’s immune system to fight the cancer cells.

Complications

Prostate cancer and its treatment can cause complications to include:

Metastasizes- Cancer that spreads: Prostate cancer cells can spread to the nearby tissues and organs, or travel through your bloodstream or lymphatic system to your bones or other organs of the body.

Incontinence: Incontinence can be caused by both prostate cancer and its treatment.

Erectile dysfunction: It can result from prostate cancer or its treatment, including surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, etc.

Prevention

You may reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer by:

  • Choose a healthy diet
  • Avoiding supplements
  • Exercise daily
  • Maintaining a healthy weight