Do you know that on the average, 64 Canadian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every day? In the US, a man will be diagnosed with prostate cancer every 3 minutes and an American man dies from it every 16 minutes. Worldwide, this cancer is the second most common cancer in men. Newcomers particularly, need to be on the watch out as most of them are coming from countries with relatively poor health facilities.
The prostate is a small walnut shaped gland in the pelvis of men. It is situated next to the bladder.
The seminal vesicles and prostate are part of the male reproductive system. The seminal vesicles are two smaller paired glands that are attached to each side of the prostate. The prostate is below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate surrounds the urethra, which is a tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the penis. This is the reason why men with an enlarged prostate have difficulty urinating. It can disrupt the flow of urine from the bladder.
The cancer at its early stages is often undetectable and may have no symptoms. The symptoms do appear eventually. They could include:
- Dull pain in the lower pelvic area
- Frequent urinating
- Weak urine flow or burning urinating,
- Blood in the urine (Hematuria)
- Painful ejaculation
- Pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
- Gradual loss of appetite and weight
What Are Causes or Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer?
Like all types of cancer, the exact causes of prostate cancer are not easy to determine. In many cases, multiple factors are usually involved, including genetics, smoking, exposure to environmental toxins, diet, and some of the following:
Age is a well-known risk factor for it. As men age, their risk of getting the disease increases also. It is rarely found in men younger than age 40. Damage to the genetic material (DNA) of prostate cells is more likely for men over the age of 55. Damaged or abnormal prostate cells can begin to grow out of control and form tumors.
Men from African descent by far, the highest incidence of the disease. African Canadian and American men are more likely to get it at an earlier age. They are also more like to have aggressive tumors that grow quickly, spread and cause death. The reason why prostate cancer is more prevalent in that ethnic group is unclear. It could be due to socioeconomic, environmental, diet or other factors. Other ethnicities, such as Hispanic and Asian men, are less likely to get it.
- Family History:
Men with a family history of prostate cancer also face a higher risk of also developing the disease. A man is 2 to 3 times more likely to get prostate cancer if his father, brother, or son had it. This risk increases with the number of relatives diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Studies show prostate cancer risk may double for heavy smokers. Smoking is also linked to a higher risk of dying from prostate cancer. However, within 10 years of quitting, your risk for prostate cancer goes down to that of a non-smoker the same age.
Diet and lifestyle may affect the risk of this deadly cancer. Tough there is no clear evidence, your risk may be higher if you eat more calories, animal fats, refined sugar and not enough fruits and vegetables. A lack of exercise is also linked to poor outcomes. Obesity (or being very overweight) is known to increase a man’s risk of dying from prostate cancer.
The first step is to do a PSA Blood Test. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test is one way to screen for prostate cancer. This blood test measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a protein made only by the prostate and prostate cancers. The test can be done in a lab or hospital.
Very little PSA is found in the blood of a man with a healthy prostate. A low PSA is a sign of prostate health. A rapid rise in PSA may be a sign that something is wrong. Prostate cancer is the most serious cause of a high PSA result. Another reason for a high PSA can be benign (non-cancer) enlargement of the prostate. Prostrate cancer can be treated by:
A prostatectomy is the removal of the prostate gland by surgery. The goal is to remove all the cancer from your body. There are several types of prostatectomy.
- Radiation Therapy:
This uses high-energy rays to target the prostate and any surrounding areas with cancer or at risk of cancer.
Cryotherapy for this cancer freezes prostate tissue, causing cancer cells to die. This type of treatment is sometimes used as an alternative to surgical removal of the prostate gland.
- Hormone Therapy:
Prostate cancer is fueled by male hormones, which are called androgens. The primary male androgen is testosterone. Hormone therapy also called androgen deprivation therapy, or ADT, stops your body from making testosterone to stop or shrink the tumor.
Can this cancer be prevented? Doing things that are “heart healthy”, will also keep your prostate healthy. Eating right, exercising, watching your weight, and not smoking can be good for your health and help you it. These are no guarantees. But they do help.
Dr. Rob Hamilton, Prostate Cancer Canada spokesperson and Urologic Oncologist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, stated on the Prostate cancer website that, “the gap between awareness and action means many Canadian men are putting themselves at risk for late prostate cancer detection – when the chance of survival decreases.”
It is encouraging that medicine has advanced significantly, and this cancer is no longer a death warrant. Advance knowledge and early detection will remain mission critical