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Diseases & Conditions

Prostate Cancer

Prostate CancerCausesMedicationsRisk FactorsSymptomsTestsTreatment

What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is the growth of cancerous cells in a man’s prostate- a gland that produces the liquid to nourish and transport sperm.

Causes of Prostate Cancer

The exact causes of prostate cancer are unknown. However, scientists believe that prostate cancer may be caused abnormal behavior of cells in the prostate. Mutations in the DNA of the abnormal cells cause cells to grow and divide at a more rapid pace than normal, leading to tumors that can invade the surrounding tissue. In some cases, these abnormal cells can even break of and spread to other parts of the body.

Medication for Prostate Cancer

Medication is mainly used in hormone therapy to treat prostate cancer. These medications include:

  • Medications that prevent your body from producing any testosterone like goserelin (Zoladex), leuprolide (Lupron, Eligard,), histrelin (Vantas), triptorelin (Trelstar), and degarelix (Firmagon)
  • Medications that prevent testosterone from reaching tumor cells like flutamide, bicalutamide (Casodex), and nilutamide (Nilandron).

Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer

Factors that can increase the risk of you getting prostate cancer are as follows:

  • Ageing: While rare under the age of 40, prostate cancer is increasingly common over the age of 65 and there is almost a 50% to 80% risk of getting prostate cancer by age 80.
  • Being African American: African American men are 1.6 times more likely to get prostate cancer than white men.
  • Heredity: If you have a family history of prostate cancer, your risk may be increased.
  • Obesity: With obese men, the likelihood of early detection and effective treatment of prostate cancer is lower.
  • Hormonal imbalance: Increased levels of testosterone are linked with increased risk of prostate cancer.
  • STD: Men with a history of STDs have a 1.4 times higher risk of getting prostate cancer.
  • Environmental factors: Toxins, chemicals and industrial products are also linked to increased risk factor of prostate cancer.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

There are hardly any signs and symptoms of prostate cancer in early stages. However, in advanced stages, prostate cancer may produce the following symptoms:

  • Trouble in urinating
  • Reduced force in stream of urine
  • Blood in urine
  • Blood in semen
  • Swelling in legs
  • Discomfort in pelvic region
  • Pain in bones

Screening Tests For Prostate Cancer

Screening tests for prostate cancer include:

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE)
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test

It may be possible for the DRE and PSA to detect prostate cancer in its earliest stages.

Diagnosing Prostate Cancer

If prostate cancer is detected in screening tests, your doctor is likely to want to confirm the diagnosis by:

  • Ultrasound
  • Collecting a sample of prostate tissue

Treatment for Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer treatment may depend on many different factors including how fast the tumor seems to grow, how much and how quickly it is spreading as well as your general health conditions. You and your doctor will also need to compare potential benefits as well as side effects of various treatment options.

In some cases of prostate cancer, no treatment may be required. Doctors may recommend ‘watchful waiting’ combined with regular blood tests, rectal exams and perhaps, even biopsies. Watchful waiting is a preferred option when the tumor is growing very slowly and is restricted to a small region of the prostate.

The options for treating prostate cancer include:

  • Radiation therapy which includes both external beam radiation, where radiation comes from outside of your body and brachytherapy, where radiation placed inside your body.
  • Hormone therapy
  • Surgery to remove the testicles (orchiectomy)
  • Surgery to remove the prostate
  • Freezing prostate tissue
  • Heating prostate tissue using ultrasound
  • Chemotherapy