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  • Prostate Cancer

    Prostate cancer is defined as the growth of malignant cells within the prostate, part of the male productive system. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located in front of the rectum and below the bladder. Prostate glands (also called the seminal vesicles) are part of the organ that produces most fluids in the semen. The size of the prostate gland enlarges as the male ages.

    Although one of the most common types of cancer among male patients in the US, the development of prostate cancer is often slow (indolent). There is a high chance of successful treatment when detected in the early stages. A simple blood test focusing on the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) produced by the prostate can measure the level of protein in the blood and detect any abnormalities. Another method to detect prostate cancer is a digital rectal exam (DRE). The doctor examines the patient’s lower rectum, pelvis, and lower belly and physically searches for an abnormal mass. 

    There are five types of prostate cancer: 

    • Acinar adenocarcinoma: In general, adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that starts in glandular (mucus-producing) cells. Acinar adenocarcinomas are the most common type, consisting of 95 percent of prostate cancer cases. 
    • Ductal adenocarcinoma: This starts in cells that line in the ducts (tubes) of the prostate gland and tends to grow and spread more quickly than acinar adenocarcinoma. It is a rare, aggressive, and histologic variant of prostate cancer. 
    • Transitional cell (or urothelial) cancer: It is the type that starts in the urethra, which is the tube carrying urine to the outside of the body. Transitional cell cancer usually starts in the bladder and then spreads into the prostate. In some cases, it first begins in the prostate and then spreads into the bladder entrance and the nearby tissues. 
    • Squamous cell cancer: This is a rare type of prostate cancer that starts in the flat cells covering the prostate. 
    • Small cell prostate cancer: Small cell prostate cancer comprises small round cells. It’s rare and a type of neuroendocrine cancer. 



    Prostate Cancer Symptoms

    The prostate is largely made up of muscle fibers and glands, and its main function is to produce semen to deliver sperm. Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor that arises especially from the outer part of the prostate gland and spreads to the inner parts of the prostate as it grows.

    There are many symptoms of advanced prostate cancer. The most common symptoms experienced by patients include:

    • Intermittent flow during urination and the feeling that the bladder is not completely emptied
    • Frequent urination at night and while asleep
    • Burning and pain during urination
    • Blood in the urine
    • Feeling discomfort or pain when sitting due to enlargement of the prostate
    • Blood in the seminal fluid released during intercourse or masturbation

    What are Prostate Cancer Signs and Symptoms?

    Most prostate cancers are found early through screening because early prostate cancer does not usually cause symptoms. Some symptoms of more advanced prostate cancer can include:

    • Urination problems
    • Blood in the urine or semen
    • Erectile dysfunction
    • Hip, back, and chest pain if the cancer has spread to the bones
    • Weakness or numbness in the legs and feet.

    These symptoms are more often caused by other issues than prostate cancer, but you should visit your doctor to determine the cause if you experience any of the above symptoms.

    What Causes Prostate Cancer?

    Prostate cancer usually shows no signs or symptoms in the early stages. It is one of the most common types of cancer in men after skin cancer. The diagnosis is usually made as a result of urination problems, the most common symptom.

    The prostate is largely made up of muscle fibers and glands. Its main function is to produce semen to deliver sperm. Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor that occurs in the outer part of the prostate gland and spreads to the inner parts of the prostate as it grows.

    As individuals get older, the risk of getting prostate cancer increases. If a family member carries the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, which increases the risk of breast cancer, or if there are individuals with breast cancer in the family, the risk of prostate cancer also increases. Obese men are also more likely to have advanced prostate cancer that is more difficult to treat.


    Prostate Cancer 
    Treatment Options

    New advances in prostate cancer treatments are made possible by clinical trials that ensure new therapies and drugs are both safe and effective prior to approval by the FDA. Once approved, these therapies are used to treat patients as the standard of care. For patients in the early stages of prostate cancer, the survival rate is nearly 100 percent. However, new advanced prostate cancer drugs are crucial to develop because once it has metastasized to distant parts of the body, the advanced prostate cancer survival rate is only 30 percent.  

    Some of the latest treatments for advanced prostate cancer in clinical trials include: 

    • New methods of a radical prostatectomy 
    • Immunotherapy 
    • Hormone Therapy 
    • Targeted Therapies 

    Living and Managing Prostate Cancer

    Most men with prostate cancer are diagnosed while the cancer is still in its early stages, when it is tiny and has not progressed beyond the prostate gland. These men have several treatment options to choose from. 

    Not every man with prostate cancer must be treated right away. If you have early-stage prostate cancer, you should think about your age, general health, and the possibility that the tumor may create issues before determining what to do. You should also consider the potential negative effects of therapy and how likely they are to affect you. Some men, for example, may desire to postpone potential side effects such as incontinence or erection issues for as long as feasible. Other men are less concerned about these side effects and more concerned about removing or destroying the cancer. 

    If you’re older or have other major health issues, and your cancer is slow growing, you might find it useful to think of prostate cancer as a chronic condition that won’t kill you but may create symptoms you’d rather avoid. You could consider attentive waiting or active monitoring rather than therapies that are likely to produce serious adverse effects, such as radiation and surgery. Of course, age is not always the best basis for your decision. Many men are in good mental and physical fitness at the age of 70, although other younger men may not be. 

    If you are younger and otherwise healthy, you might be more willing to accept possible side effects of treatment if they offer you the best chance for cure. Most doctors believe that surgery, external radiation, and brachytherapy all have about the same cure rates for the earliest stage of prostate cancers. However, each type of treatment has risks and benefits that should be considered.