prostate gland, approximately the size of a large walnut,
is located behind the base of the penis, above the rectum
and below the bladder. Its purpose is to secrete components
Although prostate cancer is the second leading cause of
death in men, if caught in the early stages, the 5-year
survival rate is extremely good. As a result, significant
research has been done into new and more innovative ways
to treat this disease.
cancer means that cancer cells form in the tissues of the
prostate. It is the most common cancer in American men after
cancer tends to grow slowly compared with most other cancers.
Cell changes may begin 10, 20, or 30 years before a tumor
gets big enough to cause symptoms. Eventually, cancer cells
may spread ( metastasize ) throughout the body. By the time
symptoms appear, the cancer may be more advanced.
50, very few men have symptoms of prostate cancer, yet some
precancerous or cancerous cells are present. More than half
of all American men have some cancer in their prostate glands
by the age of 80.
of these cancers never pose a problem. They either give
no signs or symptoms or never become a serious threat to
smaller percentage of men are actually treated for prostate
cancer. Most men with prostate cancer do not die from this
16 percent of American men are diagnosed with prostate
cancer at some point in their lives.
percent have serious symptoms.
percent die of the disease.
cancer can sit quietly for years. That means most men with
the disease have no obvious symptoms. When symptoms finally
appear, they may be a lot like the symptoms of BPH.
• Frequent urge to pass urine, especially at night
• Weak or interrupted urine stream
• Pain or burning when passing urine
• Blood in the urine or semen
• Painful ejaculation
• Nagging pain in the back, hips, or pelvis
cancer can spread to the lymph nodes of the pelvis. Or it
may spread throughout the body. It tends to spread to the
bones. So bone pain, especially in the back, can be another
are some risk factors linked to prostate cancer. A risk
factor is something that can raise your chances of having
a problem or disease. Having one or more risk factors doesn't
mean that you will get prostate cancer. It just means that
your risk of disease is greater.
Being 50 or older increases risk of prostate cancer.
. African-American men are at highest risk of prostate
cancer—it tends to start at younger ages and grows faster
than in men of other races. After African-American men,
it is most common among white men, followed by Hispanic
and Native American men. Asian-American men have the
lowest rates of prostate cancer. Aside from race, all
men can have other prostate cancer risk factors (aging,
family history, and diet). See the For More Information
section to request the booklet about African-American
men and prostate cancer screening
history. Prostate cancer risk is 2 to 3 times higher
for men whose fathers or brothers have had the disease.
For example, risk is about 10 times higher for a man
who has 3 immediate family members with prostate cancer.
The younger a man is when he has prostate cancer, the
greater the risk for his male family members. Prostate
cancer risk also appears to be slightly higher for men
whose mothers or sisters have had breast cancer.
The risk of prostate cancer seems to be higher for men
eating high-fat diets with few fruits and vegetables
cancer tumors are staged to determine how far the cancer
T1 is prostate cancer in its earliest stage. Cancer
is confined to the prostate gland and the patient
rarely experiences any symptoms of disease.
stage T2, cancer is still localized in the prostate
gland and is usually in the form of a small to large,
stage T3 tumor has spread outside the gland to surrounding
tissues, including the seminal vesicles.
T4 prostate cancer has spread outside the gland to
other tissues and perhaps other organs, such as the
bladder or even the lungs, liver or bone
PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test is an important diagnostic
tool for detecting a chemical which could signify the presence
of prostate cancer. When the PSA result is elevated or abnormally
high, a patient typically undergoes a prostate biopsy under
ultrasound to establish a definitive diagnosis.
men younger than 5O, a PSA greater than 2.5 is considered
Gleason test is a grading scale that helps the physician
determine how aggressive a patient's cancer is. Tissue removed
from the prostate during biopsy is examined microscopically
and graded. The higher the Gleason score, the more aggressive
Current Treatment Options
known as "interstitial radiation," brachytherapy
is the permanent implanting of radioactive "seeds"
into the prostate gland. Brachytherapy delivers a prescribed
dose of radiation directly to the cancer cells while decreasing
the risk of radiating surrounding tissues or organs. The
seeds are usually permanently implanted, where the radiation
dissipates over time. Brachytherapy may be done alone or
in combination with external beam radiation and/or hormonal
therapy. Generally, it is an outpatient procedure. Some
patients experience irritative voiding symptoms for a few
days or months after implantation.
X-ray of the pelvis after Palladium -103 implant
prostatectomy is the surgical removal of the prostate gland,
and unlike brachytherapy, which is an outpatient procedure,
surgery typically involves a hospital stay of several days.
The two most common side effects of this surgery are loss
of bladder control (incontinence) and the inability to maintain
an erection (impotence).
treatment involves the use of high-energy X-rays directed
at the prostate gland, and normally requires treatment 5
days per week for 6 to 8 weeks. Side effects may include
complications such as problems with urination and impotence,
as well as radiation injury to the bowel.
purpose of this treatment is to lower the levels of testosterone
(male hormone) which slows the growth of cancerous cells
over a period of time. Under certain circumstances, hormones
may be used in combination with brachytherapy to shrink
the prostate and the tumor.
many prostate cancers are slow-growing, a physician may
recommend close observation for a period of time without
any active treatment, during which the tumor's progress
is carefully monitored.
means testing for cancer before you have any symptoms. A
screening test can often help find cancer at an early stage.
When found early, cancer is less likely to have spread and
may be easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, the
cancer may have started to spread. Remember, even if your
doctor suggests prostate cancer screening, this doesn't
necessarily mean that you have cancer.
tests are most useful when they have been proven to find
cancer early and lower a person's chance of dying from cancer.
For prostate cancer, doctors don't yet know these answers
and more research is being done.
research studies, with thousands of men, are going on
now to study prostate cancer screening. The National
Cancer Institute is studying the combination of PSA
testing and DRE as a way to get more accurate results
cancers never cause symptoms or become life- threatening.
If they are found by a screening test, the cancer may
then be treated. For prostate cancer in its early stages,
it isn't known whether treatment would help you live
longer than if no treatment were given when a screening
test detects prostate cancer.
with your doctor about your risk of prostate cancer and
your need for screening tests.
prostate cancer be prevented?
research studies are looking at how prostate cancer can
be prevented. There is some proof that the drug finasteride
lowers your risk of getting prostate cancer, but whether
it decreases the risk of dying of prostate cancer is still
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