Prostate cancer is becoming common among older men, being a slow-growing type of tumor. Though most prostate cancers may not need further treatment and may not reduce life expectancy, still some of these cancers may become more aggressive and may spread to other parts of the body. The more advanced the cancer is, the less chances it can benefit from treatment.
Facts About Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that affects the prostate gland. The prostate gland is found in men and lies just beneath the urinary bladder. It is within the prostate that the urethra passes. The urethra is the tube where urine passes out of the body. The prostate functions for sperm cells so that they may be protected and be enriched.
Usually the prostate gets bigger as a man approaches the age of 50. Majority of men at the age of 70 may have an enlarged prostate. This prostate enlargement can cause certain urinary symptoms; the enlargement may either be benign or be cancerous. In prostate cancer, cells in the prostate become out of control and multiply excessively. This excessive growth of cells forms a lump or tissue growth known as a tumor. In some cases, these cancerous cells may spread to other parts of the body to become malignant cancer. Cancerous cells in malignant tumors can spread to other parts of the body through the blood or through the lymphatic system. These cancerous cells invade other cells of the body, damage them and move on to spread to other parts of the body.
The exact cause of prostate cancer is unclear, however some people have certain predispositions to the disease because they have risk factors. Some of these risk factors include older age, family history, genetic factors, belonging to certain ethnic groups, diet high in fats and low in fruits and vegetables and exposure to the metal cadmium. Prostate cancer may give out symptoms such as weaker flow of urine, incomplete emptying of the bladder, urinary hesitancy, urinary dribbling, increased urinary frequency, urinary urgency and poor bladder emptying. However all of these symptoms are more common in older men and these symptoms may also indicate that prostate enlargement is probably benign. Occasionally, pain in the penis and passage of blood in the urine may also occur. If the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body, other symptoms may develop such as hip, pelvic or lower back pain and tenderness. Prostate cancer spreads as secondary tumors in bones.
Initially, the diagnosis initially is through history and physical exam. The doctor may examine the prostate gland and note for enlargements, tenderness and masses. However, a normal prostate exam does not exclude the presence of prostate cancer. Blood tests may also be ordered to measure the levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA). PSA is an antigen which is produced by both normal and cancerous cells of the prostate gland. Higher levels of PSA in the blood may mean that a person may have prostate cancer. PSA levels may fall after prostate cancer treatment.
Biopsy of the prostate gland may be needed to confirm the diagnosis, During biopsy, a small portion of the prostate gland is removed and then examined under a microscope. Biopsy is usually done with a fine needle and an ultrasound scanner. After biopsy, staging of the tumor may be done according to the grade of the cancer cells, the stage of the cancer, and the blood PSA levels.
Prostate cancer may be treated by surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy. The choice depends on the stage of the tumor.
BPA and Prostate Cancer
A recent study by researchers from the Cincinnati Cancer Center has shown that levels of bisphenol A (BPA) in men’s urine could be a marker of prostate cancer and that low levels of BPA exposure can cause cellular changes in both non-malignant and malignant prostate cells. This study utilized data from 60 urology patients. BPA is a substance found in plastic products and is also a known carcinogen. Thus researchers warn against the use of plastics that may contain BPA because this substance can lead to cancers.
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