Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer: Detection, Treatment and Prevention

The Basic Facts of Prostate Cancer

This common type of cancer occurs in the prostate gland of the male reproductive system, thus a female cannot develop prostate cancer. This cancer may become aggressive, for there is a certain probability that the cells will undergo metastasis and affect other areas of the body such as the bones and lymph glands. Prostate cancer is actually the sixth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in males over the age of fifty-five in the United States. Of particular interest is the fact that early stages of this disease are usually asymptomatic. Thus, early detection is thought to be one of the best options to help mitigate the chances of the disease spreading. Early prostate cancer treatment has a significant chance of success, although the type of cancer and how aggressive it spreads are determining factors.

Medical Options

If a biopsy detects abnormal cells within the prostate gland, the doctor will choose from a number of treatments. One of the first things that needs to be determined is what is known as a "Gleason Score". This rates the cells on a numerical scale of 1 to 5 based on their pathology and ultimately determines how curable the cancer will be. The higher the score, the more dangerous the cancer. This is what is known as the prostate cancer staging process.

After this diagnosis is made, treatment will revolve around how advanced the cancer is and how likely it is that the cancer will be cured. Men who have early signs may actually be told to do little, although the spread (if any) will be carefully monitored. If the cancer is found to be more advanced, localized radiation therapy and surgery will often be employed. To help treat a specific area such as the prostate, a form of radiation treatment known as brachytherapy can be used. A source of radiation will be surgically placed near the prostate in hopes of killing the cancerous cells without damaging the surrounding tissue. These options are performed to eliminate any metastatic cells and are often effective methods to prevent further cancerous growths. There are also instances where surgery that involves removing part of the prostate may be the best option. Following these treatments and after an assigned recovery period, the patient will be frequently checked for any signs that the cancer may have returned, for prostate cancer can be recurrent in nature.

Stages of detection and treatment:
  • Performing a biopsy.
  • Obtaining a Gleason Score rating.
  • An assessment of how advanced the cancer has become.
  • Treatments including radiation therapy, brachytherapy or surgical procedures.
  • Subsequent monitoring for any recurrent symptoms.

Prevention

The risk factors involved with prostate cancer are not well understood, although there appears to be a genetic predisposition in some families. A contributing factor may be the increased presence of the male hormone testosterone. Prostate cancer cells are thought to rely on this substance to multiply. Men with higher levels of this hormone may be at an increased risk. Thus, one method of prevention may be the administration of drugs that lower the amount of excess testosterone in one's body.

Additionally, the presence of trans and saturated fats in one's diet may contribute to this illness. Regular exercise may lower the risk as well as frequent ejaculation. Additionally, avoiding other substances that are known to cause cancer such as cigarettes and alcohol are good preventative measures. There is also a slight correlation between sexually transmitted diseases and prostate cancer, so sexual hygiene and condoms should be used.

Preventative practices:
  • A reduction of testosterone.
  • Lowering the amounts of trans and saturated fats in one's diet.
  • Avoiding cigarette and alcohol.
  • Practising safe sex.