What you need to know about Prostate Cancer

Facts & Stats

A gland is an endothelial organ (meaning it is made of cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels). The prostate gland is one such small gland which is present only in males. Its purpose is to release a fluid that can nurture male sperm, and also help to transport it. With increasing age, males often suffer from inflammation of the gland, or its enlargement. But the most common affliction males suffer from is prostate cancer, which usually has its genesis in the prostate gland. Till the time the cancer is benign, and/or stays confined to the prostate gland, it might not be harmful at all. The trouble starts when it begins to spread.

Symptoms

The first sign of trouble is when an adult male has trouble while urinating. The force in the stream of urine reduces drastically and a lot of effort needs to be put in order to let out the urine. There are some other common symptoms of prostate cancer which should be checked by a doctor by doing the requisite tests. Some of these symptoms are:

  • Traces of blood found in the semen discharge
  • Pain in the bones of the pelvic and hip area
  • Inability to get and hold a sustained erection
  • General feeling of discomfort in the pelvic area

Stages

The grading of prostate cancer is done using the Gleason Score. The higher this score, the more serious the cancer is. Any score from 6 to 10 is an indicator of prostate cancer. For staging, the scoring/staging system used is the TNM System. The score accorded under this stage gives an indication of how far from the prostate gland the cancer has spread. The cancer could have spread to the areas near the prostate gland, or it has spread till surrounding lymph nodes, or it has spread to other parts/organs. The scores for each of these three stages are T, N, and M respectively, standing for tumour, node, and metastasis.

Causes

Even though prostate cancer has been diagnosed and treated for many years now, there is still no definitive opinion about what are the causes. In general, cancer of any kind is said to occur when the cells of a specific part of the human body exhibit unnatural growth due to some incorrect mutations in the DNA. When these abnormal cells thrive, the body’s healthy cells die away, and this cycle continues till the cancerous cells invade other organs and spread throughout the body.

Diagnosis

Problems with the prostate gland are quite common for males above 50. Even if none of the above mentioned symptoms occur, an annual prostate cancer screening is a good idea for early diagnosis. When some or all of the symptoms begin to appear, it is a good idea to go in for a complete diagnosis by a doctor. Two of the tests or examinations that could be carried out are:

  • A digital rectal exam (DRE) of your rectum, done physically by the doctor
  • A prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, which is carried out on a blood sample

Based on these results, an Ultrasound, prostate biopsy, or MRI fusion might be recommended.

Treatment

Like we mentioned earlier, all males above 50 years of age do have some or the other problems with their prostate gland. Even if the problem is detected as prostate cancer, it might be a benign or low risk instance. In such cases, consistent monitoring, prescribed medication, and recommended lifestyle changes might be enough. In case the cancerous growth is more aggressive, then doctors usually recommend surgery to have the prostate removed. Some patients are also prescribed radiotherapy to kill the cancerous cells. Radiation could be administered by external beam radiation or by radiation placed inside the body. Some of the other treatment methods used are hormone therapy, cryosurgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.

Prevention

There are several simple and non-invasive ways you can reduce the risk of prostate cancer, some of which are listed below:

  1. Following a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts, and is devoid of high fat content.
  2. Avoiding synthetic foods and manufactured supplements, and shifting completely to a natural and organic diet.
  3. Keeping within the ideal weight band commensurate with age. While obesity is not recommended, drastic weight loss is also not a good sign
  4. Moderate exercise must be done as many days of the week as possible