Prostate cancer is a malignant condition that occurs in the prostate gland, present only in the male system and hence this ailment affects only men. The prostate is a small-sized gland present near the bladder, resembling the shape of a walnut. It produces a light white, liquid secretion known as semen.
Currently, the incidence of prostate cancer globally is around 1.5 million and many more cases may not have been recorded, as the symptoms of prostate cancer do not show up in the initial stages.
The exact cause of prostate cancer is yet to be determined, but it is mainly attributed to defects in the DNA and other genetic material in the prostate tissue. This leads to uncontrolled proliferation of cells in the region which eventually accumulate, forming a lump or tumour. This tumour can further pervade into tissues in the surrounding areas and even break off from the primary site – the prostate and spread or metastasize to other organs in the body.
The parameters that increase the chances of men developing prostate cancer are aging, being obese and having a family history of the disease. Men can take active measures to prevent prostate cancer by screening regularly for any signs of the illness after the age of 30 to help in early detection. Other steps to avert this disease comprise exercising daily to maintain optimal body weight and following a nutritious, well-balanced diet. Also Read: A Simple Checklist To Detect Prostate Cancer Early
However, upon onset of the disease, the affected person must consult a medical professional, to ensure immediate treatment procedures are delivered and the cancerous growth is completely removed, to avoid any risks of recurrence.
The characteristic indications of prostate cancer include:
- Discharge of blood in the semen
- Pain in the pelvic region
- Erectile dysfunction
- Bone and muscle aches
- Problems while excreting urine
Diagnosis And Treatment:
The doctor who specializes in treating cancers, also known as an oncologist, will initially document any external signals at the site of the prostate gland and look for signs of prostate enlargement like in the case of prostatitis. The individual’s family history is also assessed. Also Read: Prostatitis: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Then, specific laboratory tests such as digital prostate exam (DRA) and prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) are carried out, to detect any abnormalities in the shape of the gland, as well as to monitor the levels PSA, a protein which is synthesized in the prostate.
In case any irregularities are indicated in these test results, ultrasound and prostate tissue biopsies are performed, to conclusively determine the presence of prostate cancer in the male patient.
Treatment depends on how aggressive the cancer is in the affected individual. This is ascertained by means of a Gleason score. It ranges from 2, meaning the cancer is still benign up to 10, indicating very malignant cancers. In instances of prostate cancer, 6 points to low-grade, 7 is medium-grade while 8 to 10 Gleason scores are prominently high-grade cancers.
Treatment comprises different techniques adopted, based on how far the cancer has advanced in the patient’s system.
Radical prostatectomy is performed by creating an incision in the lower abdomen and removing a part of or the total prostate. However, certain risks such as urinal incontinence and erectile dysfunction can arise post this procedure.
Powerful radiations such as X-rays or protons are directed towards the cancerous growth in the prostate tissue, either from outside the body (external beam radiation) or within the body (brachytherapy).
In case radiation therapy is not effective, or the invasive tumours recur post the procedures, the doctor recommends prescription drugs, to be taken by the affected males. The healthcare professional will either suggest to take the pills orally or inject them by intravenous means.
Hormone therapy involves complex medications to cease the production of the male hormone testosterone, as this fuels the growth and development of prostate cancer cells.
The above curative protocols, couple with positive lifestyle modifications like adhering to a wholesome, balanced diet, exercising regularly and engaging in activities to strengthen muscles and uplift mood, are central to recovering well from prostate cancer and enhancing longevity.