In this article, you’ll get everything you need to know about prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common type of malignancy in men after skin cancer. Current statistics estimate around 174,650 new cases in the US this year. More than half of the cases appear in men older than 65 years old, with 66 being the average age of diagnosis. Also, black men have 60% more chances to present with prostate cancer than white men. Most people get the diagnosis while the disease is at a local or regional stage, meaning that there are no distant metastases. However, prostate cancer has a favorable overall prognosis with a 100% 5-year survival rate in those with a well-defined malignancy. The same percentage falls to 30% when there are metastases.
What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?
Risk factors can be anything from what you eat to how you live that increases your chances of getting a disease. For prostate cancer, some well-established risk factors interfere with your probability of developing it in the future. It is needless to mention that only men can develop this disease because women don’t have a prostate. Therefore, all the information below addresses male individuals. The following are some of the most well-known risk factors regarding prostate cancer:
As you get older, your chances of developing this malignancy increase. The risk escalates after 50 years old, with most cases occurring at men older than 65 years old.
As previously mentioned, black men are 60% more susceptible to develop prostate cancer than white men. Except for that, they also have more chances to present with aggressive tumors at earlier ages. The disease appears more often in North America and northern Europe.
- Family history
A positive family history suggests a familial or hereditary prostate cancer. The criteria to suspect such a scenario are the following:
i. Prostate cancer of 3 or more first-degree relatives.
ii. The disease is present in 3 generations on the side of your mother or your father.
iii. Prostate cancer appeared before 55 years old in 2 or more close relatives.
Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome involve mutations to the genes BRCA1, BRCA2, or both. Women with this syndrome have higher chances of breast and ovarian cancers. However, men can also have it. In the male population, these mutations increase the risk of breast cancer and more aggressive forms of prostate tumors. Other genes associated with the disease are HPC1, HPC2, HPCX, CAPB, ATM, and FANCA.
The most popular chemical linked to prostate carcinoma is Agent Orange, used a lot in the Vietnam War. Exposure to this chemical is dangerous, and you should consult your doctor for regular screening.
- Obesity/eating habits
There are no specific foods known to increase your prostate cancer risk. However, obesity goes along with many types of cancers. Therefore, eating healthy and maintaining a low-fat diet combined with regular exercise could lower your risk significantly.
Signs And Symptoms of Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is usually asymptomatic in the early stages. Most doctors diagnose it through screening and not through symptomatology. The process includes the measurement of the PSA in the blood and the digital rectal examination. However, these examinations can only provide indications of malignancy, and further testing is necessary to establish the diagnosis. When symptomatic, it presages a usually advanced stage, and presents with some of the following:
- Frequent urination and urgency in the night
- Straining and urinary hesitancy
- Blood in the urine or the semen
- Erectile dysfunction
- Pain or burning sensation upon urination
- General discomfort when sitting
Some men experience symptoms of metastasis, meaning the spreading of cancer in other organs, without noticing any of the above signs.
These symptoms include some of the following:
- Bone pain, especially in the back, or hips
- Edema in the legs or feet
- Unexplained weight loss and fatigue
- Change in bowel habits with diarrhea or constipation
Ways to prevent prostate cancer?
If you have many risk factors for prostate cancer, all you have to do is take some steps to reduce your chances of getting it. In general, men who exercise regularly have a reduced risk of prostate cancer. If you combine exercise with a low-fat diet, with limited amounts of meats, oils, and dairy products but high in fruits and vegetables, you are on track. In short, maintaining a healthy weight and consuming the right amount of vitamins and minerals will reduce your risk of prostate cancer.
Diagnosing prostate cancer
The diagnosis of prostate cancer includes two types of tests; preliminary and confirmatory. The first group of interventions consists of the PSA and biomarkers measurement, together with a digital rectal examination. These tests are not 100% precise but will let the doctor know if you need further testing or not. The second group of interventions addresses men who had high chances of prostate cancer, according to the results of the preliminary tests. These include the measurement of the Prostate CAncer gene 3 (PCA3), transrectal ultrasound (TRUS), biopsy, or MRI fusion biopsy. To find out if cancer has spread or not, doctors use one or more of the following interventions:
- Whole-body bone scan
- Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan
- Positron emission tomography (PET) or PET-CT scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Prostate Cancer Treatment Options
Prostate cancer treatment is a highly individualized procedure. Choosing the correct therapeutical strategy depends on many factors, such as the cancer stage, your age, your symptoms, and your opinion. For example, while younger men could require surgery, older men are susceptible to less invasive options. While some treatments target only the symptomatology, others focus on the removal of the cancerous tissue. Active surveillance and watchful waiting are some non-invasive examples. On the other hand, there is surgery and radiation therapy. Finally, there are pharmacological treatment options, such as chemotherapy or androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).