What is Prostate Cancer and Who Has It?
Prostate cancer is the most common and leading cancer diagnosis and the second most common tumor diagnosed worldwide among men after lung cancer. It is to men what breast cancer or cervical cancer is to women, and began when abnormal cells in the prostate part of the male organ start growing uncontrollably. It has the potential to grow and spread quickly, but for most men, it is a relatively slow-growing disease, often causing no symptoms until it is in an advanced stage.
A black man is 70 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer than a white man and is nearly 2.3 times more likely to die from the disease. And as men increase in age, the risk of developing prostate cancer increases exponentially. About 6 in 10 cases are found in men over the age of 65. That is why it is important and recommended that men aged 40 and above get screened for prostate cancer.
What Causes Prostate Cancer?
It is still unclear to medical scientists as to what causes prostate cancer, but do understand it usually occurs when cells in the prostate begin to develop changes in their DNA. Yet, some risk factors have been discovered to cause prostate cancer among men. These risk factors are both non-modifiable (unchangeable) and modifiable (have the tendency to be changed).
Non-Modifiable Risk Factors
Age: As a man increases in age, same does the risk of having prostate cancer increases. The risk of having prostate cancer before the age of 45 years is very rare but increases after the age of 50 years. About 60% of cases of prostate cancer are found in men older than 65.
Ethnic Groups or Race: There is an increased chance of having prostate cancer if a man is racially black than being white. Although the reason for this racial difference is still very much unclear.
Family Background / History: An individual tends to have an increased risk of prostate cancer if there is a family history of prostate cancer. Some prostate cancer may still occur without a family history. The risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if their relatives were young when the cancer was found.
Diet: Men who eat a lot of red or high-fat foods, and fewer fruits and vegetables have a higher chance of getting prostate cancer. Consuming a lot of calcium-based food or supplements can also increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Obesity: Although not fully proven, some medical studies have proven that obese men may be at a greater risk of having more advanced prostate cancer and also dying from it.
Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of getting prostate cancer.
Chemical Exposures: Exposure to certain chemicals especially by firefighters might increase their risk of getting prostate cancer.
Prostatitis (Inflammation of the Prostate): It has been suggested that Prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) may have a connection to an increased risk of prostate cancer, but it hasn’t been proven as to how it does increase prostate cancer risk. Inflammation is often seen in samples of prostate tissue that also contain cancer.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI): It has been suggested that some sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, chlamydia which causes inflammation of the prostate might cause prostate cancer in some men
The Symptoms and Early Detection of Prostate Cancer
What are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms at its early stages until when it has advanced. At this stage the symptoms might include:
Early Detection of Prostate Cancer
Detecting or diagnosing prostate cancer is very important for men, i.e., screening for prostate cancer possibilities before they can cause major symptoms and spread, starting treatment early, and surviving the disease. Tests commonly used for screening include the following:
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test: A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is used to measure the level of PSA in the blood. The PSA is a type of protein released by prostate tissue that is a man's blood, i.e., a blood sample is drawn from a vein in the arm and analyzed for PSA. It's normal for a small amount of PSA to be in your bloodstream. However, if a higher-than-normal level is found, it may indicate prostate infection, inflammation, enlargement, or cancer. The normal level is 1 to 4.
Digital Rectal Examination (DRE): This is inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into a man’s rectum, which is adjacent to the rectum to feel the prostate for any abnormalities in the shape or size of the gland; and therefore, prescribing further tests.
Imaging Tests: This is the use of x-rays, sound waves / radioactive substances, and magnetic fields to create images of the internal part of the man’s body. This is done to look for cancer in the prostate; help the doctor see the prostate during prostate biopsy or other types of prostate cancer treatment; or probably check if the prostate cancer hasn’t spread to other parts of the man’s body.
The common types of imaging tests devices used include:
Biopsy: A biopsy is a procedure that can be used to diagnose prostate cancer. This is when a small piece of tissue is removed from the prostate and looked at under a microscope to see if there are cancer cells. Other tests can suggest that cancer is present, but only a biopsy can make a definite diagnosis. This is because the specimens for biopsy are usually taken from several areas of the prostate (this is done to ensure that a better sample is taken for proper examination).