Prostate cancer forms in the prostate, a part of the male reproductive system primarily responsible for the production of fluid for the semen. Prostate cancer is a very common form of cancer affecting about one in six men.
Most types of prostate cancer are slow growing and remain confined to the prostate, however, some types can grow rapidly and be much more aggressive.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Blood in the semen
- Decreased size and strength of urine stream
- Difficulty urinating
- Pelvic discomfort
- Bone pain
- Erectile dysfunction
Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer
Risk factors for prostate cancer include:
- Family history of prostate or breast cancer
- Race (Black men carry a greater risk of prostate cancer than men of other races.)
Diagnosing Prostate Cancer
Your physician will most likely perform a prostate cancer screening which includes a digital rectal exam (DRE) to look for irregularities in shape or size of the prostate and a prostate specific antigen test (PSA) to analyze the levels of PSA in the blood. If the PSA test results show a high level of PSA, this may indicate that the prostate is inflamed, infected, enlarged or potentially cancerous. At this point, your physician would recommend a transrectal ultrasound and possibly a prostate biopsy.
Prostate cancer is classified in multiple stages ranging from Stage I, which describes an early form of cancer located only in a small part of the prostate to Stage IV, which describes prostate cancer that has spread to other tissue or body organs.
Treating Prostate Cancer
Treatment for prostate cancer varies and depends on the age and health of the patient and aggressiveness and extent of the cancer.
For those patients with very early stages of prostate cancer, a physician may recommend active surveillance over immediate treatment. This includes routine bloodwork and rectal exams to monitor for progression of the cancer.
For those patients where active surveillance is not an option, there are a number of available treatment options including radiation therapy, hormone therapy, a radical prostatectomy, and cryoablation. In many cases, multiple of these treatment options will be used together for complete treatment.
Preventing Prostate Cancer
While prostate cancer may occur in some people regardless of prevention, there are measures that can be taken to improve your chances of preventing prostate cancer. A healthy diet limiting fatty foods and eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole fiber can reduce your risk. Also, studies show that regular exercise can reduce the risk of cancer.