Prostate Cancer continues to be a major health problem for many men in America. Nearly all cases of prostate cancer happened in men fifty years and older and affect the walnut-sized gland underneath the bladder that creates the majority of semen ejaculated with sperm. Men who are genetically predisposed (a family history) to prostate cancer tend to have a higher incident rate of acquiring it.
Statistics show that there were more than 160,000 cases of prostate cancer in 2017 in the United States. Likely, more than 27,000 men died from the condition that year. The numbers show that African American men are at greater risk of developing prostate cancer compared to all other races and still maintain the highest death rate from the condition. More men suffer from prostate cancer than any other form of cancer, other than skin cancer. Oddly, prostate cancer is rare in other areas of the world including Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
The cancer is typically slow-growing and often produces no symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage. Of the men who die from cancer, most did not know they had the disease until it became life-threatening. There is a high chance of survival of prostate cancer if it is treated in its early stages. Cancer can easily spread to other areas of the body including the lungs, lymph nodes, and bones when left untreated. At this stage, the cancer is no longer curable but can be controlled for years.
Prostate Cancer Causes
Medical science has yet to determine the exact cause of prostate cancer. However, many doctors suspect a bad diet is a contributing factor to prostate cancer. Many men who consume excessive amounts of red meat fat tend to have the highest rates of prostate cancer development.
While no one knows exactly why red meat fat might be associated, it could be that these meats tend to be cooked at an excessively high heat that produces cancer-causing substances that may have a direct correlation with the development of prostate cancer. Statistics show that men who consume lots of meat and dairy products tend to have higher incident rates in their countries compared to other countries where the diet consists of vegetables, soy products, and rice.
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Genetic or acquired mutations may also affect men who develop prostate cancer. Exposure to chemical toxins, body chemistry and hormones, and exposure to radiation from the sun or other sources may also be major factors that cause acquired gene mutations leading to prostate cancer or other diseases.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
The common symptoms associated with prostate issues, including prostate cancer, might involve:
- A frequent need to urinate often, especially while sleeping
- Difficulty in holding back or starting urination
- Burning or painful urination
- Interrupted urine flow or dribbling, or weak urination
- Challenges in maintaining an erection
- Painful ejaculation
- Decreasing fluid ejaculate amounts
- Pain or pressure in the rectum
- Stiffness or pain in the thighs, pelvis, hips, or lower back
- Bone pain
- Loss of appetite or loss of weight
- Hematuria (blood in the urine)
Difficulty urinating is not necessarily a correlation with prostate cancer. You may suffer from benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) or Prostatitis. Additionally, prostate cancer might not be the direct cause of having difficulty in maintaining an erection. There may be other significant factors that exacerbate that condition, including smoking, diabetes, the aging process, or cardiovascular disease.
Diagnosing Prostate Cancer
The doctor will recommend you undergo a screening test even if you do not present any symptoms of prostate problems. The doctor will recommend a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) led test and a DRE (digital rectal exam) to screen prostate cancer. Both of these tests help identify cancer in its early stages. In many cases, an abnormal result identifies infections or benign prostatic enlargement (BPH), rather than prostate cancer.
The AUA (American Urological Association) recommends speaking with your doctor about the risks and benefits associated with screening. Doctors recommend a prostate screening for men between fifty-five and sixty-nine years of age, men who are African American, and men with prostate cancer in their family history.
The doctor may recommend a minor surgical procedure (biopsy) where a tiny piece of tissue is removed from the prostate gland and examined under a microscope. During this procedure, a pathologist will carefully examine the tissue sample to identify any cancer cells and verify prostate cancer or not.
The biopsy is usually performed using an ultrasound probe to identify the exact location of the prostate and help guide the procedure. Some men receive antibiotics or an enema before the procedure. Unfortunately, not every prostate cancer can be identified. However, when cancer cells are detected, the pathologist will categorize the results using the Gleason Score and place the results of its severity/risk of the disease in varying stages. In some cases, the biopsy will cause blood to be found in stool, urine, and ejaculate.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
Nearly all forms of prostate cancer grow slowly. Others tend to develop quickly and produce life-threatening consequences without effective treatment. However, all the options for treatments can be complex. Because of that, it is crucial to speak with your health care provider to ensure you receive the most effective treatment plan. The doctor will provide options based on numerous factors including:
- The Gleason score and grade of cancer at its specific stage
- The risk category and whether the cancer is growing slowly, moderately, or quickly
- Your health and age
- The preference you have in handling side effects, treatment goals, and long-term effects
Your doctor will review your diagnostic tests to help you both better understand how to manage cancer and minimize the recurrence of the disease after treatment. If the cancer is not immediately life-threatening, it may benefit from receiving a second opinion from various experts on prostate cancers. You may consider reviewing your case with an oncologist, radiation oncologist, or urologist.
In addition to finding your way back to a healthy state, you will need to consume a well-balanced diet, maintain your healthy weight, quit smoking, and exercise. These factors are all important criteria in fighting and winning the fight over prostate cancer.