Prostate cancer, also known as prostate cancer, is very common. It is the most common form of cancer in males in the UK: over 45,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every year.
How does prostate cancer develop?
The prostate gland is responsible for the production of semen. The prostate gland is the size of a walnut and is located in the area between the bladder and the anus. The prostate is situated as a kind of ring around the urethra. From puberty, the prostate grows under the influence of hormones. An enlarged prostate can put pressure on the urethra, sometimes leading to a range of symptoms; however, an enlarged prostate is benign in most men. Sometimes, however, malignant cells develop in the prostate, leading to prostate cancer.
What factors make you at greater risk of prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is most common in old age: 70 percent of the 45,000 new cases per year occur in men aged 65 years or older. However, that does not mean that every man over 65 will get prostate cancer and it does not mean that you cannot get this type of cancer in your thirties. However, this form of cancer is rare in young men (under the age of fifty).
In addition to old age, there are several other risk factors. The risk of this cancer increases in the following cases:
Heredity. If prostate cancer occurs frequently, or at a young age in your family, you will be more likely to get the disease;
Ethnic background. Men with dark skin are more likely to develop this in than white men.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Symptoms often begin with urinary problems, such as:
• Frequent urination;
• Only producing small amounts of urine;
• Interrupted flow;
• Painful urination;
• Blood in semen and/or urine.
These symptoms are caused by the growth of the prostate. Sometimes this cancer is only diagnosed on the basis of other complaints, such as back pain. This means that cancer has spread in that case, for example, to the bones.
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
Your doctor will first investigate any urinary symptoms. This is done through a rectal examination, where the doctor feels the prostate size via the anus and rectum. Also, the blood can be tested for its PSA value by means of a PSA blood test. PSA is a protein that is only produced in the prostate. An elevated PSA level may indicate an increased risk of prostate cancer. If it turns out that there is an increased chance of prostate cancer, the urologist will take over the investigation. There may be an anal ultrasound. Sometimes some prostate tissue is taken (biopsy) for research. If the urologist finds a tumour, further investigations will be necessary, for example, a CT scan to determine the stage of cancer, and whether this form of cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
In the case of prostate cancer, there are several treatment options:
• Actively follow. In prostate cancer, the tumour grows very slowly. If the cancer is caught at an initial stage, a doctor may decide not to use any medication or surgery for the time being. The patient will be regularly checked to find out whether a tumour has grown.
• Surgery. The prostate gland is surgically removed. Sometimes the lymph nodes in the area are also removed.
• Internal or external radiation. In this treatment, the cancer cells are destroyed by radioactive rays.
• Hormone therapy. This form of cancer is sensitive to certain hormones. Hormone therapy is sometimes used to stop the growth of prostate cancer.
What treatment (or combination of treatments) a doctor chooses depends on the stage in which the prostate cancer is located and whether this cancer has spread.
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Last updated on November 2, 2017.
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