What is Prostate Cancer?
Cancer » Prostate Cancer
The prostate gland is an organ that is located at the base or outlet (neck) of the urinary bladder. It is about the size of a walnut and fits around the tube called the urethra. The gland surrounds the first part of the urethra. The urethra is the passage through which urine drains from the bladder to exit from the penis. The prostate produces some of the fluid that mixes with sperm when a man ejaculates.
This cancer is caused when cells in the prostate multiply and grow out of control to form a mass or tumor. It is very variable disease. Some tumors remain small and grow so slowly that they cause no problems; others are aggressive, grow quickly and become life-threatening. It is now the most commonly diagnosed male cancer in many western countries. It is very rare in men under 50. The risk increases after the age of 50. Men from families with a history of prostate cancer are at higher risk then normal.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Difficulty in passing urine, inability to urinate, passing urine often (particularly at night). Pain in lower back, hips and upper thighs. Even after urination, there is a sense of bladder fullness because the bladder has not been fully emptied.
Less common symptoms are blood in urine, painful ejaculation, or impotence (inability to have an erection). These symptoms, by themselves, do not confirm the presence of prostate cancer in any single individual.
What are the Treatments for Prostate Cancer?- Treatments are most effective in men.
Surgery- It is an operation called a radical prostatectomy, the whole prostate gland is removed. It is used in younger, healthy patients with stage A, Stage B, and some surgeons believe in some early Stage C prostate cancers. Radical prostatectomy can be done via an incision made in the abdomen or in the perineum, the area between the scrotum and the anus. Alternatively, it may be done with laparoscopy, called laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, is a new technique, which may result in less discomfort. In addition to removing the prostate gland, the lymph nodes in the area of the prostate may be removed either before or during the same operation. This is done in order to determine if there has been spread of the prostate cancer to the lymph nodes. This procedure is called pelvic lymph node dissection.
Radiotherapy - This therapy may lead to cure in early prostate cancer, but as with prostatectomy, the benefit is small, slow-growing cancers are uncertain. This therapy reduces the pain caused by tumor cells which have spread to the bones. Radiotherapy can be inconvenient, but exposing the cancerous cells to lowered doses of radiation damages their DNA by creating free radicals. Normal cells are able to quickly repair this damage before dividing, but cancerous cells cannot.
Brachytherapy - This is a newer type of radiotherapy in which small radioactive pellets or wires are inserted directly into the tumor, killing it from the inside.
Hormone Therapy - Since the growth and division of the prostate cancer cells depends on androgens (the male hormones), drugs can be used to either reduce the level of androgens produced by the body or block the effect of androgens on the cancer cells. These stop the growth of the tumor, but do not kill it, so they have to be taken for a long time.
Salvage Treatment - After having received brachytherapy, however, a patient usually does not receive radiotherapy. If brachytherapy fails, radiotherapy is usually not used as a salvage therapy because the prostate gland has been treated with an extremely high and concentrated dose of radiation. It is unlikely that radiotherapy could destroy what brachtherapy failed to destroy.
There is a significant relation between lifestyle (including food consumption) and cancer prevention. Exercise and diet may help in preventing prostate cancer to the same extent as may medications such as alpha-blockers and 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors.
Family-centered care, at a minimum, involves including the patient's intimate partner at the time of diagnosis and throughout the treatment for it. Doctors and scientists are hard at work conducting prostate cancer research. Prostate cancer research is advancing on testing drugs to control or reduce risk for prostate cancer.
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