What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer which mostly affects men. This cancer originates in the prostate, a gland present in the male reproductive system. This organ is located under the urinary bladder and in front of the rectum. The urethra which is the passageway of the urine and semen goes through the prostate. The prostate is made up of tiny glands which produce a fluid that forms a part of the semen. This seminal fluid functions to protect and nourish the sperm. After orgasm, the seminal vesicles secrete a milky fluid that contains semen; this fluid passes through the prostate gland.
The prostate is also involved with urine control using prostate muscle fibers. The muscle fibers in the prostate release and contract to control the flow of urine through the urethra.
The prostate's epithelial cells produce a protein called PSA (prostate-specific antigen). PSA helps in keeping semen in the liquid state. Some of the PSA leaks out in the bloodstream and gets detected by tests. If the PSA levels in the blood are high, this means that there is a prostate problem or there may be prostate cancer.
The growth of the prostate is affected by male hormones. Growth of the prostate may continue even at an older age and may cause the urethra to collapse. Enlargement of the prostate is termed as benign prostatic hyperplasia. This condition must be treated, although this does not really mean cancer.
Prostate cancer usually starts in the cells of the prostate gland and is known as adenocarcinoma. The cancer gradually grows at a slow rate. Cancer changes the size and the shape of the cells of the prostate gland; the changes are described as either low-grade or high-grade. The higher the grade, the more abnormal the cells are. Cancer confined to the prostate gland cells is known as Prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). About half of men who have reached 50 years of age have PIN. The most common system for determining the cancer stage and its spread is the TNM (Tumor/Nodes/Metastases). This system involves defining the size of the tumor, how many lymph nodes are involved, and whether there are any other metastases. Another way of grading the tumor through biopsy is through the Gleason System grading which goes from 2 to 10.
The symptoms of prostate cancer includes frequent urination, difficulty in urination, bloody urine, painful urination, painful ejaculation, and difficulty in maintaining an erection. Advanced prostate cancer may bring about symptoms such as bone pain (commonly in the spine, pelvis, or ribs), pain in the proximal part of the femur, leg weakness (if cancer has spread to the spine and compressed the spinal cord), urinary incontinence (if cancer has spread to the spine and compressed the spinal cord) and fecal incontinence (if cancer has spread to the spine and compressed the spinal cord).
Risk factors for prostate cancer include older age, genetics, poor diet, use of anti-inflammatory medicines, obesity, sexually transmitted disease, use of Agent Orange, and presence of Enzyme PRSS3.
New Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
Recently, researchers from Adelaide have found out that seminal fluid (semen) contains biomarkers for prostate cancer. The results of this study are published in journal Endocrine-Related Cancer. The said markers can show not only whether a man has prostate cancer, but also the severity of the cancer. In this study, the researchers collected samples from 60 men and discovered that a number of small ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules called microRNAs in seminal fluid are increased in those with prostate cancer. The study showed that some of these microRNAs were surprisingly accurate in detecting cancer.
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