Prostate Cancer What Is It
To get checked for prostate cancer please consult with your GP.
The human body is made up of billions of tiny building blocks called cells. Sometimes, cells reproduce in an uncontrolled way and grow into a lump, or tumour. There are two kinds of tumours: noncancerous and cancerous . Benign tumours do not spread to other parts of the body and are not life threatening .
Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal cells develop in the prostate. These cells have the potential to continue to multiply, and possibly spread beyond the prostate. Doctors do not know what causes prostate cancer. What they do know however, is that the growth of cancer cells in the prostate is stimulated by male hormones, especially testosterone. Most prostate cancer growth is influenced by testosterone but the speed at which prostate cancer grows varies from man to man. In some men the cancer grows very slowly , in others growth is more rapid .
Men are more likely to develop prostate cancer as they get older. It is also more common in men who have a father or brother with prostate cancer, and in families who carry certain genes such as the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
Anyone with a prostate can get prostate cancer including transgender women, male-assigned non-binary people or intersex people.
Recommended Reading: What Kind Of Cancer Is Prostate Cancer
So What Causes Prostate Cancer
The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown. Most prostate cancers happen by chance, or due to shared environmental and common genetic factors. But what we do know is that prostate cancer happens when some prostate cells become abnormal.
Abnormal cells grow and multiply more quickly than normal cells. And as abnormal cells continue to accumulate, normal cells die and a tumor forms. That tumor can grow and spread to nearby tissue, and those abnormal cells can also spread to other parts of the body.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer usually doesnt cause symptoms in its early stages. In fact, most men dont know they have prostate cancer until it is found during a regular medical exam. When unusual symptoms are noticed, theyre most often problems with urinating. But these same symptoms can also be caused by an enlarged prostate, so its important to talk with your doctor.
Typically, noticeable symptoms of prostate cancer dont occur until the cancer has begun to spread beyond the prostate, or its metastasized to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. At this point, prostate cancer signs and symptoms can include:
- Not being able to urinate at all
- Having a hard time starting or stopping the flow of urine
- Having to urinate often, especially at night
- Having pain or burning during urination
- You have difficulty having an erection
- You have deep and frequent pain in your lower back, belly, hip or pelvis
Anytime you experience unusual symptoms especially any of the symptoms mentioned above make an appointment with your family doctor or urologist. They can talk with you about your symptoms, do a physical exam if necessary and work with you to create a treatment plan, if necessary.
Experiencing symptoms of prostate problems? Dont delay getting the care you need.
Recommended Reading: How To Avoid Prostate Cancer
Early Stage Prostate Cancer
If the cancer is small and localized, a doctor may recommend:
Watchful waiting or monitoring
The doctor may check PSA blood levels regularly but take no immediate action. Prostate cancer grows slowly, and the risk of treatment side effects may outweigh the need for immediate treatment.
A surgeon may carry out a radical prostatectomy to remove the tumor. In addition to removing the prostate, the procedure may also involve the removal of the surrounding tissue, seminal vesicles, and nearby lymph nodes. A doctor can perform this procedure using either open, laparoscopic, or robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery.
This uses radiation to kill cancer cells or prevent them from growing. Options for early stage prostate cancer may include :
External radiation therapy: This method uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer cells. Conformal radiation therapy is a type of external radiation that uses a computer to help guide and target a specific area, minimizing the risk to healthy tissue and allowing a high dose of radiation to reach the prostate tumor.
Internal radiation therapy: Also known as brachytherapy, this method uses radioactive seeds that a doctor implants near the prostate. A surgeon uses imaging scans, such as ultrasound or computed tomography to help guide the placement of the radioactive substance.
Treatment will depend on various factors. A doctor will discuss the best option for the individual.
Should I Have A Psa Test
Because the results of the PSA test are not as reliable as doctors would like, other tests and investigations are needed to diagnose prostate cancer.
A PSA test cannot identify prostate cancer on its own, and changes in PSA levels alone are not a good reason to start treatment.
If you are thinking about asking for a PSA test, it is important that you first discuss whether it is right for you with your GP so you understand what the results might mean.
The Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme has information on the risks and benefits of the PSA test to help you decide whether or not to have it.
Read Also: When To Get A Prostate Biopsy
Bladder And Urinary Troubles
A prostate tumor that has grown significantly in size may start to press on your bladder and urethra. The urethra is the passage the carries urine from your bladder out of your body. If the tumor is pressing on your urethra, you might have trouble passing urine.
One of the common areas for prostate cancer to spread to is the bladder, because the two organs are close. This can cause additional problems with urination and bladder function.
Some symptoms your bladder and urethra are being affected by cancer include:
- urinating more frequently
- getting up in the middle of the night to pee
- feeling like you have to urinate often and not actually passing anything
Its not as common, but prostate cancer can also spread to your bowel. The cancer first spreads to the rectum, which is the part of your bowel closest to the prostate gland.
Symptoms of cancer thats spread to the bowels include:
How To Cure Prostate Cancer
This article was medically reviewed by . Dr. Litza is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Wisconsin. She is a practicing Physician and taught as a Clinical Professor for 13 years, after receiving her MD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 15,803 times.
Prostate cancer is the leading cancer among men and an estimated of 220,000 men are diagnosed with the condition in 2015. In men, prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer. However, with an aggressive treatment regimen and healthy lifestyle habits, the disease can be treated.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Cancer SocietyNonprofit devoted to promoting cancer research, education, and supportGo to source
Don’t Miss: City Of Hope Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials
When To See Your Gp
If you have symptoms that could be caused by prostate cancer, you should visit your GP.
There is no single, definitive test for prostate cancer, so your GP will discuss the pros and cons of the various tests with you to try to avoid unnecessary anxiety.
Your doctor is likely to:
- ask for a urine sample to check for infection
- discuss with you the option of taking a blood sample to test your level of prostate-specific antigen
- examine your prostate
How Common Is Prostate Cancer In Young Men
Common estimates suggest that early-onset prostate cancer comprises roughly 10 percent of all prostate cancer occurrences. As mentioned previously, the number of cases of early-onset prostate cancer is increasing, and has increased roughly six-fold from 5.6 to over 30 cases per 100,000 person-years since 1986. Additionally, and the same as with all prostate cancer diagnoses, the largest proportion of those diagnosed are African American males.1,2
Read Also: What Is A Prostate Specialist Called
Recommended Reading: What’s Good For An Enlarged Prostate
How Common Is Prostate Cancer And Who Is At Risk
Prostate cancer most often affects men between ages 55 and 69. There is a huge gap between the proportion of men diagnosed with prostate cancer and those whose health and lifespan are affected by the disease. American men have a 16 percent lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer, but only 2.9 percent of men die from it.
In fact, many prostate cancers are believed to be slow growing, with men dying from causes other than prostate cancer. Autopsy studies support this, finding that 30 percent of 55-year-old men and 60 percent of men reaching age 80 on whom an autopsy is performed have autopsy-discovered prostate cancer.
There are some factors that increase risk for prostate cancer, including:
Race Race seems to play a role in the frequency and severity of the disease. African-American men are far more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men 203.5 vs. 121.9 cases per 100,000 men. They are also more than twice as likely as white men to die of prostate cancer 44.1 vs. 19.1 deaths per 100,000 men.
Family History Positive family history of prostate cancer is another risk factor.
Elevated Body Mass Index Elevated BMI is another risk factor, linked to an increased risk of prostate-cancer-specific mortality and biochemical recurrence in men with prostate cancer.
Should I Get Prostate Cancer Screening
You may have wondered why there is no nationwide prostate cancer screening program in Australia . Thats because experts do not recommend routine prostate cancer screening if youre aged between 50 and 69, healthy, and dont have a family history of prostate cancer.
There are several reasons for this:
- A high PSA level can be a result of something other than cancer.
- Experts dont fully agree on what is a normal or abnormal PSA level.
- Most men with a slightly raised PSA level have a biopsy that confirms no cancer.
- Many prostate cancers are low risk, slow growing, and are unlikely to cause harm if left untreated.
- Testing and treating low risk, slow growing cancers may cause more harm than good.
You should speak to your doctor if you have a family history or ongoing symptoms of prostate cancer, such as difficulty passing urine. Your doctor can help you make an informed decision about whether prostate cancer screening is suitable for you.
Recommended Reading: Does Prostate Removal Cause Erectile Dysfunction
At What Age Should You Start Getting Prostate Cancer Screenings
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. Approximately one out of eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime and one in 41 will die from it. In 2022 alone, the American Cancer Society recorded nearly 270,000 new cases of prostate cancer. Of those, almost 35,000 were fatal .
The silver lining is that comparable to most cancers, the survival rate of prostate cancer is high. While individual cases can vary, many doctors believe that the earlier prostate cancer is caught, the more likely it is that the patient can make a full recovery. In fact, statistics show that in 80 to 85% of prostate cancers detected in stages 1, 2, or 3, most of the men will be disease-free within five years .
Given the chances of developing prostate cancer, as well as the potential of successful treatment if caught early, it’s important that men get regular screenings . However, most men don’t consider getting screened for prostate cancer until it is too late so when is the right age for men to be taking prostate cancer screening seriously? The answers can vary, and there are factors to consider.
Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer does not normally cause symptoms until the cancer has grown large enough to put pressure on the urethra.
This normally results in problems associated with urination. Symptoms can include:
- needing to urinate more frequently, often during the night
- needing to rush to the toilet
- difficulty in starting to pee
- straining or taking a long time while urinating
- feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
Your prostate may get larger as you get older due to a non-cancerous condition known as prostate enlargement or benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Symptoms that the cancer may have spread include bone and back pain, a loss of appetite, pain in the testicles and unexplained weight loss.
Read further information:
- Cancer Research UK: prostate cancer symptoms
You May Like: Cost Of Hormone Therapy For Prostate Cancer
Treating Advanced Prostate Cancer
If the cancer has reached an advanced stage, it is no longer possible to cure it. However, it may be possible to slow its progression, prolong your life and relieve symptoms.
Treatment options include:
- hormone treatment
If the cancer has spread to your bones, medicines called bisphosphonates may be used. Bisphosphonates help reduce bone pain and bone loss.
What Tests Detect Prostate Cancer Early
Because prostate cancer cant necessarily be detected at home, its a good idea to learn about the tests that provide early detection. Keep in mind that these tests cant decipher whether or not you have prostate cancer and, following the test, your doctor will most likely suggest a prostate biopsy. If youre wondering how to check for prostate cancer at home, your best bet is to leave it to your health care professional.
Recommended Reading: Can Prostate Cancer Be Treated With Medication
What Are The Treatments For Prostate Cancer
Your treatment options usually depend on your age, your general health, and how serious the cancer is. Your treatment may include one or more of options:
- Observation,which is mostly used if you are older, your prostate cancer isn’t likely to grow quickly, and you don’t have symptoms or you have other medical conditions. Your doctor will keep checking on your cancer over time so to see whether you will need to start treatment for the cancer. There are two types of observation:
- Watchful waiting means having little or no testing. If symptoms begin or change, you will get treatment to relieve them, but not to treat the cancer.
- Active surveillance means having regular tests to see if your prostate cancer has changed. If the tests show the cancer is starting to grow or if you develop symptoms, then you will have treatment to try to cure the cancer.
How Prostate Cancer Is Diagnosed And Staged
Cancer staging helps you and your doctor understand how advanced your cancer is and how much it has spread at the time of diagnosis. Knowing your cancer stage also helps your doctor determine the best treatment options for you and estimate your chance of survival.
The most widely used staging system for cancer is the TNM system that classifies cancer from stage 1 to stage 4.
TNM stands for:
- Tumor: the size and extent of the tumor
- Nodes: the number or extent of nearby lymph node involvement
- Metastasis: whether cancer has spread to distant sites in the body
The TNM scale is used for many types of cancer. When a doctor uses it to determine your prostate cancer stage, theyll consider several other factors as well, including:
Also Check: What Supplement Is Good For Prostate
Gleason Prostate Cancer Score
1960s as a way to measure how aggressive your prostate cancer may be.
A pathologist determines your Gleason score by looking at a biopsy of your prostate tissue under a microscope. They grade the cells in the biopsy on a scale of 1 to 5. Grade 1 cells are healthy prostate, whereas grade 5 cells are highly mutated and dont resemble healthy cells at all.
The pathologist will calculate your Gleason score by adding together the number of the most prevalent type of cell in the sample and the second most prevalent type of cell.
For example, if the most common cell grade in your sample is 4 and the second most common is 4, you would have a score of 8.
A Gleason score of 6 is considered low-grade cancer, 7 is intermediate, and 8 to 10 is high-grade cancer.
Family History And Genes
Your risk of prostate cancer is higher if you have a close relative, such as a brother or father, who has had prostate cancer.
Some inherited genes can increase your risk of prostate cancer. These inherited genes are rare and account for only a small number of prostate cancers.
The risk increases by up to 5 times in men with the gene BRCA2. And the risk might increase with the BRCA1 gene. These genes also cause breast and ovarian cancers.
Men with a rare syndrome called Lynch syndrome have a higher chance of developing prostate cancer and some other cancers. A change in one of the genes that fixes mistakes in DNA causes this syndrome eg. MSH2 and MLH1 genes.
Researchers are looking into other genes that might also increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Read Also: Gay Prostate Cancer Support Group