What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer affects the small walnut-sized gland called Prostate in the male reproductive system, responsible for making seminal fluid. Prostate cancer occurs when the cells in the prostate gland grow and multiply and multiply.
How Common is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer in Indian men. It accounts for 7% of all cancers.
What are the Causes of Prostate Cancer?
As in other types of cancer, the exact cause of prostate cancer is not easy to determine. In a few cases, the cause can be a genetic mutation or exposure to toxins, like certain chemicals and radiation. Genetic material can cause the cells to multiply and create cancerous cells, and in some cases even metastasize and spread to other organs in the body.
What are the Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer?
The following are the risk factors of prostate cancer:
- Family history: If you have a family history of prostate cancer, you are at risk of developing it in the future because you may have inherited the damaged DNA. Approximately, 5-10% of prostate cancers are caused due to genetic mutations.
- Age: This disease rarely affects young men. Men above the age of 50 are at higher risk of developing this disease.
- Prostatitis or BPH: Men who have suffered from Prostatitis or BPH ( Benign Prostatic Perplasia) are at a higher risk of developing this disease.
- High-fat diet: Men who eat a diet rich in red meat and high-fat dairy products compared to eating more vegetables and fruits are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of developing prostate cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer has the following symptoms:
- Urinating frequently
- Having an urgency to urinate
- Waking up multiple times at night to urinate (Nocturia)
- Difficulty starting the urine stream
- Blood in the urine occasionally
- Sexual dysfunction
- Pain in the pelvic area, lower back, hips and upper thigh
How is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?
Prostate Cancer is diagnosed in the following ways:
- Blood test for PSA levels: There is a blood test done to check the prostate-specific antigen levels. If the levels are abnormally high, it suggests and confirms prostate cancer.
- Biopsy: This is usually done under ultrasound guidance called as TRUS biopsy. It is done with a core needle gun.
- CT Scan: To see the spread of disease locally and to the lymph nodes. It also helps in staging the cancer.
- Bone scan: It is done to see if there are any bony metastasis, i.e. the spread of cancer to the bones and vertebrae.
- PET scan: It is useful to know the distant spread of the cancer.
Also Read: 9 Types of Cancer Treatments
How is Prostate Cancer treated?
Prostate cancer is treated in the following ways:
1. Surgery: Radical prostactomy is includes the following options:
- Open surgery: The surgeon makes a large incision to access the prostate and removes the whole prostate with seminal vesicles.
- Laparoscopic surgery: The surgeon uses camera and tools to see inside the body through small incisions.
- Robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery: The surgeon controls very precise robotic arms to perform laparoscopic surgery.
2. Cyrosurgery: In this process, probes are inserted into the prostate. They are then filled with cold gases to freeze and kill cancer cells.
3. Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP): During this surgical procedure, your doctor will insert a long, thin scope with a cutting tool on the end into the urethra. They will use this tool to cut away prostate tissue that’s blocking the flow of urine. It is usually done in very early stages.
4. Radiation therapy: This involves controlled doses of radioactive rays to kill cancer cells. This is mainly used in early stages of prostate cancer when the cancer has not spread to other areas of the body. It can be used to treat bony metastasis also.
5. Chemotherapy: These are drugs that control the growth of cancer cells of prostate and help in stopping the spread.
6. Palliative care: Palliative care is given in the last stages of cancer and the focus is on managing pain and other side-effects of the disease and to make the patient as comfortable as possible.
What are the complications of Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer has the following complications:
- Erectile dysfunction: The nerves that control the erectile response in a man are located near the prostate. Cancer can damage these nerves and the person can suffer from erectile dysfunction.
- Incontinence: Prostate cancer can lead to urinary incontinence. A person may not be able to control their bladder or may not be able to control when they urinate. This happens due to damage to the nerves and muscles that control urinary function.
- Metastasis: This happens when cancer spreads from one part of the body to other organs. It can either spread through the tissue and lymph system or through the blood stream.
What are the lifestyle changes required to manage Prostate Cancer?
The following lifestyle changes should be incorporated to manage Prostate Cancer:
- Diet: Switch to a diet full of fruits and vegetables and avoid red meat and high-fat dairy products like cream and cheese. It is advised to eat more fiber and less of fried food.
- Exercise: Exercising increases immunity and elevates moods. Try to include easy exercises like walking or yoga to stay active and fit.
- Appointments: Keep up with your appointments and doctor’s visits. Discuss your concerns with your doctor so that you can speed up your process of recovery.
- Quit smoking: Smoking is one of the risk factors of prostate cancer. So it is better to quit smoking completely in order to recover faster.
How to take care of someone with Prostate Cancer?
You can take care of the patient in the following ways:
- Take them for their appointments with their doctor
- Help them exercise and be their workout buddy
- Ensure they eat a healthy diet
- Be supportive and patient towards them
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