Prostate cancer is the leading cancer that affects men.
Prostate cancer occurs in, you guessed it, the prostate. This is a small gland found in males that produces fluid essential in transporting sperm. It is vital in male reproductive health.
Typically, this form of cancer begins in the prostate and grows slowly over time. In this scenario, it may not cause harm. However, in other cases, prostate cancer can grow quickly and aggressively.
As with most forms of cancer, early detection is the most important part of finding a cure. The earlier a cancer is detected, the better chance you have at effective and successful treatment.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
This form of cancer does not have a great amount of early warning signs. There is not usually pain from tumor growth which is typically a telltale sign of most cancers. Without regular checkups, this disease can easily go untreated because of so few symptoms. On the occasion that prostate cancer does cause symptoms, here is what to watch for:
- Frequent and urgent urination, especially at night
- Pain while urinating
- Weak or disrupted flow of urine
- Difficulty holding back or beginning urination
- Blood in urine and/or semen
- Difficulty maintaining an erection
- Pain in the rectum and/or lower back, pelvis, and hips
These symptoms are not always sure signs of prostate cancer, but they can be signs of other disease, such as prostatitis or erectile dysfunction, among others. It is always best to consult your doctor. There is still debate surrounding the risks and benefits of cancer screenings, so recommendations differ.
What are the stages of prostate cancer?
Determining the stage of cancer is the first step most doctors will take. Most of this decision has to do with the size of the tumor and how far it has spread throughout the body. Determining the stage of cancer is helpful in giving the patient an outlook on treatment, from how long they will be in the hospital to survival rates. Some may find this helpful, while others may wish it not to be disclosed.
There are four stages of prostate cancer, but all of them are survivable. Even up through stage three, the rate of survival is almost 100%. Stage four is a worrying 29%, but the likelihood of a tumor not getting spotted until stage four is less likely. Regular exams are necessary.
What are the treatment methods for prostate cancer?
Typically, treatment of prostate cancer will be undergone by an urologist or a radiation or medical oncologist. They will take into consideration the stage of the cancer, health conditions, survival rates, and your opinion on side effects of treatment.
It is also worth noting here that many cancer patients feel the need to make this choice quickly, but it is important to weigh all of your options and consider them thoroughly. Asking an abundant amount of questions is worthwhile.
Many men turn to cancer support groups as well as many online forum options to seek advice. Cancer is a tricky subject, as well as a complicated and unique one, so listening to the experiences of others in your shoes may help you arrive at your own conclusion.
Stage one cancers exist exclusively within the prostate. They grow slowly and rarely cause symptoms. So, the best way to treat this stage of prostate cancer is watchful waiting and/or active surveillance. However, if you wish to undergo treatment, surgery and radiation are alternative options.
Stage two cancers are still only in the prostate, but they are much larger growths. If they are not causing symptoms, you may still opt for the active surveillance route. However, surgery and radiation are, again, good options. If you are young and otherwise healthy, you may be asked to participate in a clinical trial at this stage.
Stage three cancers has grown outside of the prostate but is still within treatable areas. No other organs have been affected. Radiation therapy in tandem with hormone therapy is useful in this scenario, but surgery is also an option.
Stage four cancer has spread to the bladder, rectum, lymph nodes, or other organs. This stage can often not be cured, but is usually treatable with hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and some other surgeries.
What are the risk factors?
There are some factors that can lead to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
Your risk increases as you age. It also becomes more difficult to treat, as sometimes the risk outweighs the reward later in life.
Family history plays a role; if a family member has had prostate cancer, your risk increases. A family history of breast cancer can also increase your risk for prostate cancer.
Men of African-American descent have a greater risk of developing this form of cancer, though it is unclear as to why that is. In this group of men, prostate cancer grows more aggressively as well.
Overweight and obese men that develop this disease are typically diagnosed in later stages. These stages are more difficult to treat and cure.
Can I prevent prostate cancer?
Making efforts to improve overall health are usually safe bets at reducing your risk of prostate cancer.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet with a variety of vegetables and fruits can aid in your health. Also, making an effort to eat your vitamins instead of getting them via supplements may also aid in reducing your risk.
Maintaining a healthy body weight takes excess stress off of your body. Exercising most days of the week can help do this, as well as reducing caloric intake. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle.
Scientists are unsure what the exact cause of prostate cancer is. However, knowing that there are few signs should indicate that regular visits to the doctor are the best way to treat the cancer before it gets to advanced stages. The best course of action is to lead a healthy life, be active, eat well, see your doctor, and know the symptoms.