Table of contents
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is also known as Prostatic carcinoma. This cancer occurs in the prostate, a gland in the lower abdomen of men. The prostate gland encloses the urethra, is located below the bladder and produces semen. Sometimes an unusual growth of a cancerous tumor causes prostate cancer. These cancers grow gradually. Lymph nodes and bones are particular areas to get attacked by these cancer cells. Prostate cancer is common cancer among men between 60-70 years of age.
How do you get prostate cancer?
The causes are vague and can occur to any man after a certain age. According to a study, prostate cancer occurs due to the expansion of some abnormal cells in the prostate gland, which results in a tumor. These cells have rapid growth compared to normal cells – occupying more area while normal cells die. This makes them fatal, spreading quickly to the rest of the body.
How fast does prostate cancer spread?
It spreads slowly over some time, and it may take years to circulate to the body parts. It often attacks the femur bone first. Its treatment is readily available.
It’s not clear what causes prostate cancer.
Doctors believe that prostate cancer develops when certain cells in the prostate become abnormal. The abnormal cells’ DNA mutations cause cells to divide and grow faster than normal cells. The abnormal cells live on while other cells would die. A tumor can develop when abnormal cells accumulate and spread to other tissues. In addition, some abnormal cells tend to break off and move (i.e., metastasize) to other parts of the body.
In the early stage of prostate cancer, signs or symptoms are not visible. Some common indications are nocturia, hematuria, dysuria, excessive fatigue caused due to anemia, and bone pain. If not treated promptly, prostate cancer can spread to the bones. The most common locations for this bone pain are the spine, ribs, and pelvis. Because it is so close to the prostate, the femur bone makes a good target for the cancer. This leads to symptoms such as incontinence, weakness, leg deficiency, and compression of the spine.
- pain when urinating
- issues with bladder control
- more frequent urges to urinate at night
- blood in the semen
- painful ejaculation
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
Diagnosis is made using several examinations, such as a biopsy where a tissue of the affected gland is incised to examine the cancerous cell. Some primary tests which give detailed cancer information are scanning of bone, MRI screening, and CT scanning. Another test is the digital rectal exam (DRE); in this process, the lump is searched in the prostate through the rectum. A prostate-specific antigen test checks the protein level generated by the prostate. Finally, a lymph node biopsy is done to determine if cancer has spread (metastasis) to the lymph nodes near the prostate gland.
How is prostate cancer treated?
Medications are prescribed initially for mild symptoms – but as the diseases, progress and symptoms become more aggressive, surgery is followed through. The types of treatments include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, cryotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, prostatectomy and stereotactic radiosurgery.
This procedure consists of the removal of the prostate gland. But it can be done only if the cancer has not spread to other body parts. In open and laparoscopic surgery, a large cut and several small cuts are made in the abdomen.
Other surgical procedures include:
a) Radical Prostatectomy- Retropubic prostatectomy, radical perineal prostatectomy.
b) TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate)
Higher energy radiation in the x-ray spectrum is utilized to destroy and hinder the growth of cancerous cells – normal cells are mildly affected. Lightly visible scars may appear in the treated area due to radiation. One should avoid applying a bandage or tape, avoid exposure to extreme cold or hot, and avoid scratching and rubbing. For faster recovery, the patient should get proper rest, practice light exercise, and have a nourished, balanced diet. Types of radiation therapy are; three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy, stereotactic body radiation therapy, external beam radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, radium-223 therapy and brachytherapy.
Chemotherapy uses anti-neoplastic drugs to destroy cancer cells that cause prostate cancer. It is used to manage cancer symptoms and as a supplement with hormone therapy. There are various drugs administered for chemotherapy that help reduce fatigue and pain. Side effects include vomiting, nausea, sore mouth, hair loss, and loss of appetite. Side effects can be managed with the correct choice of drugs.
Cryotherapy destroys cancer cells by applying extreme cold temperatures. It is beneficial in checking the growth of cancer-causing cells and killing them completely. Cryotherapy is performed as a secondary treatment in case cancer relapses after radiation therapy. In this process, open needles are directed inside the body between the scrotum and rectum with the help of ultrasound into the prostate gland.
Cold therapy gases are then administered through the needles to freeze and destroy the cancer cells – hot salt water is passed to the urethra to avoid freezing. The duct is not removed for some time to help the bladder empty during the healing period. The patient needs to stay in the hospital for medical attention. He may return home as per the advice of a doctor. Cryotherapy is less aggressive than other surgeries, and recovery is faster in this therapy.
Hormone therapy, a surgical procedure to stop the flow of testosterone (the male hormone) to cancerous cells in the prostate gland, is called hormonal therapy. This causes the cells to stop growing and ultimately leads to death. Orchidectomy is also included. To stop the testosterone from flowing, an orchidectomy involves a large cut in the groin. The exact process is followed for both sides. If the patient wishes to have prosthetic testicles, they can be fixed in their place.
Benefits of hormone therapy:
The benefits of hormone therapy include long-lasting effects, adequate results, and painlessness due to the administration of anesthesia. Usually, the therapy does not involve any risks or side effects. Side effects of hormone therapy include erectile dysfunction, loss of body mass, fatigue, behavioral changes like irritation and anxiety, increased body fat, smaller genitalia, thinning of bone, reduced body hair, growth of breast tissue, and metabolism problems.
How to prevent prostate cancer naturally?
To prevent prostate cancer, one should maintain a balanced weight, exercise daily, have a healthy diet with vegetables and fruits, and quit drinking and smoking. One should eat tomatoes, consume soybeans, tea, coffee, broccoli, soy and fish.
The treatment includes medications for early stages and surgery for later stages, such as radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, prostatectomy and cryotherapy.
Costs vary from one country to the next. It is possible to spend a lot depending on your condition. It can be anywhere from $5000 to $8000 in India.
Hormone therapy is almost 3-4 hours long. Recovery takes up to 3-5 hours more. But in the middle stage, the patient should receive treatment for at least 4-6 months; in later stages, the treatment should exceed for some more time.
Potential effects are urine leakages, rectal bleeding, frequent and painful urination, cramping, pain during movement and diarrhea.
The side effects include:
a) Urinary incontinence- Inability to control the urine
The spread is slow and gradual – although it can spread to all body parts. The femur bone is most likely to get affected at first. After this, the spinal cord, ribs and pelvic bone get affected.
The types of prostate cancer are:
a) Adenocarcinoma– the majority of the patients have adenocarcinomas.
b) Small cell carcinomas
c) Neuroendocrine tumors
d) Transitional cell carcinoma
The most common risk factors are listed below:
a) Older age: > 50 years of age
b) Family history (hereditary)
d) Race: seen most common in African people
f) Lifestyle habits
Picture Courtesy: credihealth
The complications of prostate cancer are:
a) Metastasis of cancer- cancer that can spread to other organs in the body
b) Urinary incontinence
c) Erectile dysfunction