Prostate cancer develops in the prostate gland of men. It is one of the most common types of cancer. It is usually seen in men older than 50 years of age. The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland that produces seminal fluid required to nourish and transports sperm. Prostate cancer develops slowly. More often, it is confined to the prostate gland, requiring minimal or no treatment.
It can take from 8 to 15 years for prostate cancer to spread from its origin to other parts of the body (metastasis), typically the bones. In many cases, prostate cancer does not affect the man's natural lifespan. Certain types of prostate cancer can be aggressive and spread quickly to other parts of the body. If prostate cancer is detected early and is confined to the prostate gland, the prognosis is excellent.
A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is often raised in cases of prostate cancers. This blood test is typically done as a screening test, routinely for older men to help detect the cancer in the early stages. It can also be done to monitor the progress of treatment in prostate cancers. However, it is not specific or accurate for cancer diagnosis. Infection of the prostate or the noncancerous enlargement of the prostate can also cause prostate cancer.
What are the other ways to diagnose prostate cancer?
Testing healthy men with no symptoms for prostate cancer is controversial. However, many doctors do recommend asymptomatic men aged older than 50 years of age, who have other risk factors, to get screened for prostate cancer routinely. This is because there are often no symptoms in the early stages. The advantage of screening routinely is the early detection of cancer and treatment, as well as the possibility of complete cure.
Screening tests for prostate cancer might include
- Digital rectal exam (DRE): This is the part of a physical examination performed by a doctor on an outpatient basis. The prostate is situated adjacent to the rectum. The doctor (with gloves on) inserts a finger into the rectum to examine the prostate, feel its texture and assess its shape and size. The doctor uses a numbing lubricant while examining to reduce discomfort during examination.
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: If the PSA level is higher than normal, it indicates prostate abnormalities. PSA levels are also increased during prostate infection or benign enlargement of the prostate. PSA test helps to monitor disease progression and response to treatment. Further investigations, such as ultrasound (USG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the prostate, are required to confirm the diagnosis.
- Diagnostic tests for prostate cancer: If there are abnormal findings in the screening tests, the doctor may advise
- Ultrasound: Transrectal (through the rectum) ultrasound is done using a small probe inserted into the rectum to study the prostate gland.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
- Prostate biopsy: A small sample of prostate tissue is collected using a thin needle inserted into the prostate.
- Detecting the presence of metastasis
- Detection of metastasis (spread of cancer): The doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests if metastasis is suspected:
What causes prostate cancer?
The exact cause of prostate cancer is not known. The tumor arises from cells with abnormal changes in the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of the prostate.
Certain factors can increase the risk of prostate cancer. They include
- Age: The risk of prostate cancer increases with age. It is most commonly seen in people aged older than 50 years of age.
- Ethnic groups: African Americans have a higher risk of prostate cancer than other ethnic groups. Cancer in this population is also more likely to be aggressive.
- Family history: If a first-degree relative has prostate cancer, it increases the risk as well. Having the genes (BRCA1 or BRCA2) in the family that increase the risk of breast cancer or a strong family history of breast cancer also increases the risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Obesity: Obese people have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, which could also be aggressive and recurrent despite treatment.
Latest Health and Living News
Daily Health News
What are the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer can cause the following signs and symptoms in the later stages:
How is prostate cancer treated?
The treatment options for prostate cancer depend on the aggressiveness of the tumor, whether it is metastasized and the overall health of the patient. Treatment may involve one or a combination of multiple treatment modalities.
Treatment options include
- Observation and follow-up: Low-grade prostate cancer may not require treatment immediately. Hence, the doctor may recommend observation and regular follow-up.
- Surgery: Surgery to remove the prostate with or without surrounding structures.
- Radiation therapy: Uses high-powered beams to kill cancer cells.
- Cryotherapy: Involves freezing tissues of the prostate using cold gas to kill the cancer cells.
- High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU): Uses concentrated heat generated by ultrasound energy, killing the cancer cells.
- Hormone therapy: Involves taking medication to stop the production of the male hormone, testosterone or block the action of testosterone. Prostate cancer cells require testosterone to grow.
- Chemotherapy: Uses medications to kill cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy modulated the body’s immune system to help fight cancer.
- Targeted drug therapy: Targeted drug treatments target specific abnormalities present within cancer cells and block them, causing cancer cells to die.
- Pain management: Large prostate cancers and metastasis can cause significant pain for which the doctor would prescribe appropriate painkillers.
- Emotional support: Helps with the emotional stress and depression that may be associated with a chronic disease.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Is Prostate Cancer? https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/basic_info/what-is-prostate-cancer.htm
Tracy CR. Prostate Cancer. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1967731-overview
Top Can Prostate Cancer Be Detected by a Blood Test? Related Articles
BPH SlideshowBenign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a condition cause by an enlarged prostate. Get more information on how an enlarged prostate is diagnosed and available treatment for enlarged prostate glands.
How Does Prostate Cancer Kill You in the End?Prostate cancer is cancer of the prostate gland in men. Death from prostate cancer most often happens when cancer has spread (metastasized) to other organs in the body.
How Quickly Does Prostate Cancer Spread?Prostate cancer is a cancer that develops in the prostate gland in men and it is one of the most common types of cancer. In some cases, it can take up to eight years to spread from the prostate to other parts of the body (metastasis), typically the bones. In other cases, it may be more aggressive.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer.
- Risk factors include age, family history, ethnicity, and diet.
- Prostate cancer is diagnosed by a digital rectal exam, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, and prostate biopsy.
- Symptoms may include
- frequent need to urinate,
- incontinence, pain,
- blood in the urine,
- fatigue, and more.
- Prognosis and treatment depend on cancer staging.
- Watchful waiting,
- cryotherapy, and
- other management strategies are available.
- Research and clinical trials strive to find new and better treatments for prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer QuizIs prostate cancer the most common cancer in men? Take this prostate cancer quiz to find out and learn the causes, symptoms, and treatments of this disease.
Prostate Cancer Facts
Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer and cancer death in males; in some men, identifying it early may prevent or delay metastasis and death from prostate cancer.
- The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that is a part of the male reproductive system that wraps around the male urethra at it exits the bladder.
- Prostate cancer is common in men over 50 years of age, with the risk of developing prostate cancer increases with aging.
Signs of Prostate Cancer: Symptoms, PSA Test, TreatmentsWhat is prostate cancer? Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Learn the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, along with causes and treatments. Know the stages, survival rates and how to lower your risk of prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Early Signs and Symptoms
Difficulty with urination – frequency, weak stream, trouble getting started, etc. – is usually the first sign of prostate cancer. But these and other early symptoms of prostatic cancer can also come from benign prostate conditions, so diagnostic testing is important, including PSA tests and digital rectal exam.
Prostate Cancer ScreeningProstate cancer screening may be able to detect cancer before a person has developed any symptoms. Prostate cancer is the most common nonskin cancer among American men. Tests commonly used to screen for prostate cancer include a digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen test (PSA test).
Prostate Cancer Staging and Survival Rates
The prognosis for prostate cancer, as with any cancer, depends on how advanced the cancer has become, according to established stage designations. The patient's PSA score at diagnosis, as well as their Gleason score (the grading system used to determine the aggressiveness of prostate cancer) determines the prognosis and final stage designation. Prostate cancer has a high survival rate in general, but your chances depend on the stage of the cancer.
What Are the 5 Warning Signs of Prostate Cancer?Prostate cancer rarely produces symptoms in the early stage; however, few signs can help in detecting prostate cancer.
What Are the Five Stages of Prostate Cancer?The Gleason grading system grades prostate cancer from 1 to 5. According to cells’ appearances under a microscope, this system grades the most common (primary) and second most common (secondary) patterns of cells in a tissue sample collected via biopsy.
What Is Stage IV Prostate Cancer Life Expectancy?The survival rate in most people with advanced prostate cancer is 30 percent at the fifth year of diagnosis. This means around 70 percent of the diagnosed men are not alive in the fifth year after diagnosis.