16 October 2012, under
Health; More Health articles...
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate Cancer is a disease that can affect any man and has no respect for upbringing or address. Irish men have about a one in twelve chance of developing prostate cancer over the course of their lifetime. The vast majority of these cases occur in men over the age of 50. The frequency of prostate cancer is on the rise in Irish men. It has become the most common cancer in men, overtaking lung cancer. With PSA testing on the increase and an ageing population, the incidence of prostate cancer is predicted to rise ahead of breast cancer in women over the next decade.
Prostate cancer differs from most other cancers in the body because small areas of cancer within the prostate are very common and may stay dormant for many years. Most of these cancers grow extremely slowly and so, particularly in elderly men, will never cause any problems. In a small proportion of men, the prostate cancer does grow more quickly and in some cases may spread to other parts of the body, particularly the bones.
What are the Risk Factors for Developing Prostate Cancer?
We do not know exactly what causes prostate cancer, but we do know that certain risk factors are linked to the disease. Some risk factors, such as smoking, can be eliminated by simply quitting. Others, like a person’s age or family history, can’t be changed. But having a risk factor, or even several, doesn’t mean that you will get a particular disease. Many people with one or more risk factors never get cancer, while others with the disease may have no known risk factors.
As well as increasing age, there are a number of recognised risk factors for prostate cancer:
Family History – your risk of prostate cancer increases if there is a history of prostate cancer in your family.
Nationality – prostate cancer is much more prevalent in the Western world than, for example, in Asia. However, research has shown that Asians who come to live in the West also develop a high risk of prostate cancer. This has led many researchers to focus on dietary risk factors.
Diet – a diet high in saturated fat, namely animal fat, is associated with a significantly increased risk of prostate cancer. The high saturated-fat diet of the Western world is thought to be one of the main reasons why prostate cancer is so much higher in the West than in places like Asia where much less saturated fat and animal fat is eaten. There is considerable research being undertaken looking at diet and other supplements that can help prevent prostate cancer. Visit here for prostate diet tips & recipes
While the results of research studies are not yet clear, you may be able to reduce your risk of prostate cancer by changing the way you eat. Eating less red meat and fat and eating more vegetables, fruits and wholegrains may help lower your risk from other types of cancer, as well as other diseases.
It should also be mentioned that vasectomy and BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia / enlargement of the prostate) are not associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Signs & Symptoms of Prostate Cancer:
One of the problems related to prostate cancer is that in its early stages, it often does not have any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include any of the following:
• Having a sense of urgency, a need to rush to the toilet to pass urine.
• Passing urine more often and/or at night.
• Difficulty getting the flow of urine started (hesitancy).
• Starting and stopping whilst passing urine (a poor stream).
• Discomfort (pain or burning) while passing urine.
• A feeling of not having emptied the bladder fully.
• Dribbling of urine or semen
• Pain or stiffness in the back, hips or pelvis.
Of course, these symptoms can be caused by many other conditions, including a urinary tract infection, BPH or even simple wear and tear arthritis in the case of back stiffness. The prostate enlarges as men get older, and most men have some symptoms affecting urination. However, if you have these symptoms, it is important to go to your doctor so they can be properly evaluated.
Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer:
Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment. None of the following tests are an individually conclusive indicator of prostate cancer. Your doctor is likely to use more than one test to determine whether or not you are affected by prostate cancer.
Your doctor can actually feel the size of the prostate gland by doing a rectal examination with a gloved finger, which allows him / her to feel the prostate and if there are any suspicious feeling bumps or irregularities.
The PSA Test:
This is a blood test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the bloodstream. PSA is a substance produced in the prostate gland that helps to liquefy semen. Some PSA can also get into the bloodstream, which is why measuring the level of PSA can be a marker of prostate health. A raised PSA level can be the first indicator of otherwise asymptomatic prostate cancer. However, while a high reading suggests prostate cancer, the PSA test is not specific for cancer and raised levels can occur because of benign enlargement or inflammation of the prostate gland.
Further tests that can be carried out by a urologist include an ultrasound scan, a prostate biopsy and a bone scan.
Treatment Options for Prostate Cancer:
The decision to have active treatment and which type of treatment is an important decision that you should take in conjunction with your specialist, as side effects from these treatments can be significant. Options include surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy or a combination of these treatments.
Surgery: removal of the entire prostate is known as a ‘radical prostatectomy’. Complications include impotence and urinary incontinence.
Radiotherapy: including either external beam radiotherapy or placing small radioactive seeds into the prostate, which irradiate it from the inside out.
Hormone treatment: lowering the testosterone levels can slow or stop the growth of the cancerous tumour. However, some prostate tumours develop the ability to grow without testosterone.
Stay informed about your prostate health and discuss the issue with your doctor.
Dr. Mark Rowe
Do you / have you or a family member suffered from Prostate Cancer? Would you like to inform other dads of your experience with this cancer? Contact editor here for information or visit our forum and share your advice with other dad chat members
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