Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. It occurs in the prostate- a small walnut-shaped gland that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Prostate cancer usually grows slowly and initially remains confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, once it begins to grow quickly and spreads outside the prostate, it is dangerous.
In its early stages, prostate cancer can be treated with very good chances for survival. Fortunately, approximately 85% of American men with prostate cancer are diagnosed in an early stage of the disease.
In its early stages, prostate cancer may not cause symptoms. More advanced prostate cancer may have the following symptoms:
- Trouble urinating
- Decreased force in the stream of urine
- Blood in the urine
- Blood in the semen
- General pain in the lower back, hips, or thighs
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Bone pain
- Erectile dysfunction
While doctors don’t know what causes prostate cancer, the following can increase the risk of developing prostate cancer:
- Older age-Your sick of prostate cancer increases as you age. Prostate cancer is most common after the age of 50.
- Race-For reasons not yet determined, being Black increases your chances of developing prostate cancer.
- Family history of prostate or breast cancer-If a blood relative, such as a parent, sibling, or child, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your risk may be increased. Also, if you have a family history of genes that increase the risk of breast cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA2) or a very strong family history of breast cancer, your risk of prostate cancer may be higher.
- Obesity-Obestiy increases your sick of prostate cancer and complications after treatment.
- Diets rich in meat and dairy products
Call your doctor about prostate cancer if you experience
- Trouble urinating or painful urination
- Chronic pain in your lower back, pelvis, upper thighbones, or other bones
- Unexplained weight loss
- Swelling in your legs
- Weakness in your legs or difficulty walking
Two initial tests commonly used to look for prostate cancer in the absence of symptoms are:
- A digital rectal exam (DRE) is where the doctor feels the prostate through the rectum to find hard or lumpy areas known as nodules.
- A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test in which a blood sample is drawn to detect if high than normal levels of PSA (a substance naturally produced by your prostate) are 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
It is not clear what causes prostate cancer. Doctors know that prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate develop changes in their DNA. A cell’s DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do. The changes tell the cells to grow and divide more rapidly than normal cells do. The abnormal cells continue living when other cells would die.
The accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor that can grow to invade nearby tissue. In time, some abnormal cells can break away and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
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 spreads to the bones can cause pain and broken bones. Once prostate cancer has spread to other areas of the body, it may still respond to treatment and may 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 the type you have, 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.
- A healthy diet. Make sure to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and limit red meat and dairy. It is advised to get most of your nutrients through food versus solely relying on supplements. If you should require supplements your doctor can discuss your options with you can create a plan.
- A healthy lifestyle. It is advised to get some type of movement every single day. Staying active helps to prevent not only prostate cancers but other cancers as well. If you are new to exercise start slow or use resources such as a dietitian and a trainer to help you achieve better movement goals.
- Regular check-ups. Keep in contact with your doctor and attend regular checkups and any added appointments you might need. This will ensure you are staying healthy and can help with any preventative measures needed. If you are regularly seeing a doctor it is also more likely you will find any issues or complications early. Early detection of prostate cancer will help you get treatment more quickly, therefore, lowering your risk of any complications.