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Prostate Cancer

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Prostate cancer is a type of cancer occurring within the prostate of men. The prostate is a small gland, which is shaped like a walnut and produces seminal fluid, the fluid responsible for transporting and nourishing sperm. In men, prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers. It typically grows in a slow manner, remaining confined within the prostate gland where it is generally not harmful. Some prostate cancers will grow slowly and only require a minimally invasive treatment, however other forms of prostate cancer will grow more aggressively, spreading and becoming damaging much more quickly.

Causes, Risk Factors and Complications of Prostate Cancer

It is not yet clear what is responsible for the development of prostate cancer, though physicians do know it has to do with the abnormal growth of prostate cells. Mutations in the DNA of these abnormal cells allow them to grow and divide more rapidly than they are meant to. This means that these cells continue to live when others die off. When these abnormal cells accumulate, they can form into a tumor capable of invading nearby healthy tissues. These abnormal cells are also capable of breaking off and metastasizing, which means they can spread into other parts of the body, invading healthy tissues and becoming increasingly dangerous.

The most serious complication of prostate cancer is metastasis into other parts of the body. Prostate cancer is also capable of traveling through the lymphatic system of the bloodstream in order to invade bones and other vital organs throughout the body. Advanced levels of prostate cancer are capable of causing weight loss, fatigue and weakness. Prostate cancer can also lead to serious kidney problems, incontinence, pain, broken bones, erectile dysfunction and other serious issues. The complications increase significantly when the cancer is not caught quickly, which is why seeking professional medical assistance is so vitally essential.

Signs, Symptoms and Tests for Prostate Cancer

In the earliest stages of the cancer, prostate cancer may not show any specific signs or symptoms, which can make it difficult to detect. When the prostate cancer advances, it can show a number of symptoms including bone pain, pelvic area discomfort, blood in the seminal fluid, blood in the urine, difficulty urinating, decreased urine stream force and leg swelling. When these types of symptoms begin to appear, it is vital to seek help from a physician as soon as possible.

Digital rectal exam or DRE and prostate-specific antigen test or PSA are the most common tests used to diagnose prostate cancer, and these screening exams are common before symptoms avail themselves. Once prostate cancer is found, the physician will want to type and stage the cancer using additional tests. These may include: ultrasound, computerized tomography or CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging or MRI and bone scan.

Treatment, Drugs and Prevention of Prostate Cancer

Treatment options for prostate cancer will depend on the type of cancer and its progression. Immediate treatment is not always required depending on how aggressively the cancer is growing or progressing. Treatment options may include: radiation, surgery, hormone therapy, freezing the prostate tissue, heating the prostate tissue with ultrasound and chemotherapy. Choosing the right treatment option will depend on the individual patient, and the physician may recommend a combination of treatment options such as cryosurgery to freeze the prostate tissue with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.