Prostate health often gets ignored until it is troubling. However, you should not neglect it especially as you grow older. 

Prostate cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer death among men worldwide, making it one of the most commonly found cancers in men. 

What is Prostate Cancer?

The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland found in a man’s lower abdomen. It is located under your bladder and surrounding the urethra. 

Its functioning is regulated by a hormone known as testosterone. It produces seminal fluid, popularly known as semen which nourishes and transports your sperm (male reproductive cell).

Prostate cancer occurs when there is a malignant (cancerous) growth of cells within the prostate. The abnormal tissue mass that develops is called a tumour.

How Does Prostate Cancer Spread?

Prostate cancer can spread when the cancer cells travel through blood vessels or lymph nodes to reach other parts of your body. 

After spreading, cancer cells may attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumours, causing damage where they land.

What Are The Causes And Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer?

It is not very clear what causes prostate cancer but researchers believe that it occurs due to changes in the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) of your cells.

Since the exact cause is not known, researchers have found certain risk factors that are associated with a high incidence of having prostate cancer and they include:

  • Older age. The chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after the age of 50. Prostate cancer is rarely seen in men below the age of 40 years.

  • Family history. Prostate cancer appears to run in some families, indicating that there may be an inherited or genetic component in the development of the condition.

  • Obesity. Studies show that obese people may have a higher risk of prostate cancer than normal people.

  • Diet. The exact role of diet in prostate cancer is not clear, but there are some studies showing that men who consume lots of dairy products and calcium have a slightly higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

What Are The Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?

In its early stages, prostate cancer often shows no symptoms. 

Common symptoms of prostate cancer can be:

  • Dull pain in your lower pelvic area

  • Frequent urination

  • Trouble urinating, pain, burning, or weak urine flow

  • Blood in your urine

  • Painful ejaculation (pain or burning sensation while ejaculating)

  • Erectile dysfunction (inability to get or keep an erection)

  • Pain in your lower back, hips or upper thighs

  • Loss of appetite

  • Loss of weight

  • Bone pain

How is Prostate Cancer Screened or Diagnosed?

For an early diagnosis of prostate cancer, your doctor can order the following screening tests:

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE). Your doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to examine your prostate. If there are any irregularities in the texture, shape, or size of the gland, additional tests may be ordered.

  • Blood test. A sample of your blood is drawn and analysed for prostate-specific antigen (PSA). A higher-than-normal level of PSA may indicate prostate infection, swelling, or cancer. 

If your prostate cancer screening tests detect any abnormalities, your doctor may recommend further such as ultrasound and prostate biopsy tests to diagnose your condition.

How is Prostate Cancer Treated?

Based on your symptoms and the stage of your cancer, the doctor would suggest the treatment options that would suit you the best. 

  • Monitoring.

    • Regular PSA tests, DREs, and biopsies are performed.

    • Watchful waiting. It is a less involved form of monitoring that does not involve any regular biopsies or other active monitoring tools. 

  • Localized Therapy

    • Radiation therapy. In this, high energy rays are used to kill cancer cells.

    • Cryotherapy. Your prostate gland is exposed to freezing temperatures. This extreme temperature does not allow cancer cells to survive.

    • Focal therapy. Very high-intensity ultrasound waves are focused over your prostate gland to kill cancer cells.

    • Surgery. As a last resort, surgical removal of the complete or part of your prostate gland can be done.

  • Systemic Therapy. 

    • Hormonal therapy. Prostate cancer cells require certain hormones to multiply. In this therapy, the secretions of those hormones are blocked, thus cutting off the supply for cancer cells.

    • Chemotherapy. Medicines and other chemicals are used to stop the growth of cancer cells.

    • Immunotherapy. It boosts your immune system to find and attack cancer cells.

How Can Prostate Cancer be Prevented?

You can reduce your risk of prostate cancer if you:

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet. You should eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains as they contain many vitamins and nutrients that can contribute to your health. They help in maintaining good cells of your body thus helping in preventing prostate cancer.

  • Choose healthy foods over supplements. Choose foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals over supplements to maintain healthy levels of vitamins in your body.

  • Exercise. Exercise benefits your well being, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and lifts your spirits. Make an effort to exercise on most days of the week.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. If your present weight is healthy, make an effort to keep it that way. If you want to lose weight, increase your exercise and cut your daily calorie intake.

Prostate cancer can not be completely prevented. By adopting a healthy lifestyle and going for screening tests, you can help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. Consult your doctor to get yourself screened.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.