Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the prostate gland, which is a small gland located below the bladder in men. The prostate gland produces some of the fluid that makes up semen, which nourishes and transports sperm.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men and is typically slow growing but can also be aggressive and spread quickly. Patients need to be aware of the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options for prostate cancer, as early detection can improve the chances of successful treatment.
What is a Prostate
The prostate is a small gland of the male reproductive system located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is roughly the size of a walnut and surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder through the penis.
The prostate gland produces fluid that helps nourish and protect sperm as it passes through the reproductive system during ejaculation. While the prostate is a necessary part of the male reproductive system, it can also be the site of cancerous growths that can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
What Can Cause Prostate Cancer
The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but we have identified several possible causes. Here is a list of the potential causes of prostate cancer:
- Age: The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age. The majority of cases occur in men over the age of 50.
- Family History: Men with a family history of prostate cancer are at a higher risk of developing the disease. This risk is higher if the affected family member was diagnosed at a younger age.
- Genetics: Certain inherited gene mutations, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, can increase the risk of prostate cancer.
- Race: Prostate cancer is more common in African-American men than in other racial/ethnic groups. Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men have a lower risk of developing the disease.
- Diet: A diet high in red meat and dairy products and low in fruits and vegetables may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
- Obesity: Some studies have suggested that obesity may increase the risk of developing more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
- Environmental Factors: Exposure to certain chemicals, such as cadmium, may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer
Certain risk factors can make a man more susceptible to developing prostate cancer. Here is a list of the most common risk factors:
- Age: As men get older, their risk for prostate cancer increases.
- Family History: If you have a close relative (father, brother, or son) who has had prostate cancer, your risk increases.
- Race: African American men have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer than men of other races.
- Genetics: Certain inherited genetic mutations, such as those associated with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, can increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Obesity: Studies have shown that men who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer.
- Hormone levels: Men with high levels of certain hormones, such as testosterone, may be at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer.
- Diet: Some research has suggested that diets high in red meat and dairy products may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
It’s important to note that having one or more of these risk factors does not necessarily mean you will develop prostate cancer. Still, being aware of them and discussing any concerns with your healthcare provider is essential.
Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
If you are experiencing unusual symptoms regarding your prostate, make sure to call Z Urology today! Catching a problem early is ideal. Here is a list of symptoms that someone with prostate cancer may experience.
- Difficulty starting or stopping urination
- Weak or interrupted urine flow
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- Blood in urine or semen
- Painful ejaculation
- Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection
- Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fatigue and weakness
Some men with prostate cancer may not experience any symptoms at all, especially in the early stages of the disease. Regular prostate cancer screening is recommended for men at an increased risk for the disease, including those over 50, African American men, and men with a family history of prostate cancer.
Two initial tests commonly used to look for prostate cancer in the absence of symptoms are:
- A Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) A digital rectal exam is a physical examination that doctors use to check the health of the prostate gland in men. During the exam, a healthcare provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for any abnormalities or changes in the prostate gland’s size, shape, or texture. The exam can help detect problems such as prostate cancer, prostatitis, or an enlarged prostate. It is a quick and relatively painless procedure.
- A Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test used to screen for prostate cancer. The test measures the level of PSA, a protein produced by the prostate gland, in a man’s blood. The PSA test is not a definitive diagnostic test for prostate cancer but rather a tool used to identify men who may have an increased risk for the disease and require further testing.
A high PSA level does not necessarily mean that a man has prostate cancer, as other factors such as inflammation, infection, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can also increase PSA levels. However, a significant increase in PSA levels over time or above a certain threshold may indicate the need for additional testing, such as a biopsy, to determine if cancer is present.
If an abnormality is detected on a DRE or PSA test, your doctor may recommend tests to determine whether you have prostate cancer, including:
- A transrectal ultrasound
- Collecting a sample of prostate tissue
Treatments for Prostate Cancer
If it has been determined that you have prostate cancer, you have several treatment options. Here at Z Urology, we only use the latest technologies and tools of industry standards. Here is a list of treatment options for prostate cancer:
The doctor monitors cancer to see if it grows or spreads before deciding on treatment.
Surgery is one of the standard treatment options for prostate cancer. It involves removing the prostate gland and the surrounding tissue to eliminate the cancerous cells. Different types of surgeries can be performed to treat prostate cancer, including open prostatectomy and Robotic Assisted Radical Prostatectomy (RARP).
- Radical Prostatectomy: Radical prostatectomy is a surgical procedure commonly used to treat prostate cancer localized to the prostate gland and removed. The surgeon will make an incision in the lower abdomen or between the rectum and scrotum during the procedure. The prostate gland and surrounding tissue and seminal vesicles will be removed. The surgeon will also check the lymph nodes in the area for signs of cancer.
- Robotic Assisted Radical Prostatectomy (RARP): RARPis a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove the prostate gland. During the procedure, small incisions are made in the abdomen, and a laparoscope (a tube with a camera and light on the end) is inserted to guide the surgeon. The prostate gland is then removed through small incisions.
This technique allows for faster recovery times, less blood loss, and more minor scars than traditional open surgery. The vast majority of prostate cancer surgery is performed robotically.As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and potential complications, so discussing the pros and cons of laparoscopic prostatectomy with your doctor is essential.
Surgery may be recommended for prostate cancer patients who have localized tumors and who are in good health. However, surgery may not be an option for men who have advanced prostate cancer or who have other health issues that make surgery risky.
Radiation therapy is another treatment option for prostate cancer. We use high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy can be administered externally, where radiation is directed at the prostate from a machine outside the body, or internally, where radioactive seeds are placed inside the prostate. The type of radiation therapy recommended may depend on the stage and location of cancer.
Side effects of radiation therapy may include fatigue, urinary problems, bowel problems, and sexual dysfunction. However, these side effects are temporary and can be managed with medication and lifestyle adjustments. Radiation therapy is often combined with other treatments, such as surgery or hormone therapy, to provide the best outcome for patients.
Hormone therapy is another treatment option for prostate cancer, often used with radiation therapy. It works by blocking the production of testosterone in the body, which can slow or even halt the growth of prostate cancer cells.
We can administer Hormone therapy through injections, pills, or surgical removal of the testicles. While it is not a cure for prostate cancer, hormone therapy can help shrink tumors, slow disease progression, and alleviate symptoms. However, it can also have side effects, such as hot flashes, decreased libido, and loss of muscle mass.
Chemotherapy is not a common treatment for prostate cancer, but it may be used for advanced cases or if other treatments have failed. Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells and may be given intravenously or orally.
Immunotherapy for prostate cancer involves using the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. It works by either stimulating the immune system to attack the cancer cells or by giving the immune system synthetic versions of naturally occurring immune system components.
While still in clinical trials, immunotherapy has shown promising results in some patients with advanced prostate cancer, particularly in those with a specific genetic mutation. However, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of immunotherapy in treating prostate cancer.
Cryotherapy is a prostate cancer treatment involving freezing cancer cells. During the procedure, we insert a tiny probe into the prostate gland, and liquid nitrogen or argon gas is used to freeze the prostate tissue. Cryotherapy causes cancer cells to die, and the body’s immune system will naturally remove the dead tissue.
We utilize Cryotherapy for men with early-stage prostate cancer or who have failed other treatments. The procedure is minimally invasive and has fewer side effects than other treatments, but it may also have a higher risk of complications.
High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)
High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a noninvasive procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to destroy prostate cancer cells. During the procedure, an ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum to deliver high-frequency sound waves to the prostate gland. The sound waves create heat, which destroys cancer cells.
HIFU is an outpatient procedure that usually takes a few hours to complete. HIFU has shown promising results in treating early-stage prostate cancer, but more research is needed to determine its long-term effectiveness and safety. It may also be used in combination with other treatments.
Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy used in the treatment of prostate cancer. This procedure involves the implantation of tiny radioactive seeds into the prostate gland, which emits radiation to the surrounding tissue over time. The radiation is delivered directly to the cancerous cells, minimizing damage to the healthy tissue.
Brachytherapy may be used as a standalone treatment for low-risk prostate cancer or in combination with other therapies for more advanced cases. The seeds remain in the prostate permanently, but the level of radiation decreases over time and eventually becomes undetectable.
Treatment choice depends on the cancer stage, the patient’s age, and overall health. The doctor will consider all of these factors before recommending a treatment plan.
Complications of prostate cancer and its treatments include:
- Cancer that spreads (metastasizes). Prostate cancer can spread to nearby organs, such as your bladder, or travel through your bloodstream or lymphatic system to your bones or other organs. Prostate cancer that extends to the bones can cause pain and broken bones. Once prostate cancer has spread to other body areas, it may still respond to treatment and be controlled, but it’s unlikely to be cured.
- Incontinence. Both prostate cancer and its treatment can cause urinary incontinence. Treatment for incontinence depends on your type, how severe it is, and the likelihood it will improve over time. Treatment options may include medications, catheters, and surgery.
- Erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction can result from prostate cancer or its treatment, including surgery, radiation, or hormone treatments. Medications, vacuum devices that assist in achieving an erection, and surgery are available to treat erectile dysfunction.
Ways to Prevent Prostate Cancer
Here is a list of ways to prevent prostate cancer:
- Eat a Healthy Diet: Include more fruits and vegetables, limit red meat and processed foods, and choose healthy fats such as olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Exercise Regularly: We recommend regular exercise for all of our patients. Regular physical activity can help lower the risk of prostate cancer and other problematic health conditions.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight or obese may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
- Get Regular Check-ups: Regular prostate exams and PSA tests can help detect prostate cancer early.
- Quit Smoking: Smoking is associated with prostate cancer and many other cancers and health conditions. It is best to quit smoking for your overall health and prevention of prostate cancer.
- Limit Alcohol Consumption: High levels of alcohol intake have been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer and other cancers and health problems.
- Consider Taking Supplements: Some studies suggest that certain supplements, such as vitamin D and selenium, may help prevent prostate cancer
- Manage Stress: Chronic stress may weaken the immune system, increasing cancer risk.
It’s important to note that while these prevention strategies may help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer, they are not a guarantee, and regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are still important.
The Importance of a Yearly Prostate Exam
The American Urological Association recommends that men at average risk of developing prostate cancer begin annual screenings at age 55. For men at higher risk of developing prostate cancer, such as African American men and men with a family history of the disease, screenings should begin at age 40. Early detection of prostate cancer is crucial, as it increases the chances of successful treatment and recovery.
Yearly screening with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and a digital rectal exam (DRE) is the most effective early detection of prostate cancer. These tests can detect prostate cancer before symptoms develop, allowing for earlier treatment options and a better chance of survival. Yearly screening is not just for men experiencing symptoms, as prostate cancer may not cause symptoms in its early stages.
Even if you feel fine, you should undergo regular screening to detect potential issues early. If you have a family history of prostate cancer or other risk factors, it’s important to stay vigilant and undergo regular screenings. While prostate cancer can be a scary diagnosis, catching it early through regular screenings can significantly increase your chances of successful treatment and a positive outcome.
Call Us Today!
If you or someone you know is struggling with prostate cancer or are experiencing concerning urological symptoms, seeking professional medical advice and treatment is essential. Don’t forget that a yearly prostate exam is vital for catching prostate issues such as cancer early.
At Z Urology in Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Boca Raton and Ft Lauderdale, we are dedicated to providing top-quality urological care and care for prostate cancer patients. Our team of experienced urologists and healthcare professionals offers a range of treatment options, and we will help you navigate the entire process.
Don’t wait! Take the first step towards treatment and schedule a consultation with Z Urology today. Your health and well-being are important, and our friendly team is here to support you every step of the way.