Prostate Cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. It is incredibly important to know what it is, how it starts, how to spot it, and how it can be treated.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Lets start with the basics. Firstly, the prostate is the area between the bladder and rectum. It is essential in creating some of the fluid within semen. As a child, the prostate is incredibly small, but as the male ages, it grows larger. With prostate cancer, the cells within the prostate gland rapidly grow. This can lead to the development of a couple different kinds of prostate cancer:
- Adenocarcinomas: This is the most common type, making up 99% of all prostate cancer cases. This type of cancer starts in the secretory cells, which are located in the glands that secrete mucus in the body.
- Sarcomas: These are rare types of cancer that develop from smooth muscle cells. There are a couple types of prostate sarcomas, including leiomyosarcoma and rhabdomyosarcoma. Leiomyosarcoma is the more common of the two, because it mainly affects men over 40, whereas rhabdomyosarcoma is more common in young boys. Both are identified by the narrowing of the urethra that occurs when the cancer grows.
- Neuroendocrine: This type of cancer is caused by the development of neuroendocrine cells in the prostate. The most common types are small cell prostate cancer and large cell prostate cancer. Small cell prostate cancer is the most common of the neuroendocrine prostate cancers, whereas large cell prostate cancer is rarer, so it is harder to treat. Both types of cancer are dangerous because they spread rapidly throughout the body.
- Glandular: This type of prostate cancer is similar to common, or adenocarcinomas, cancer. The difference is that although they are developed in the gland cells lining the prostate, the numerous types of glandular cancer are much rarer. Types of glandular prostate cancer include ductal, mucinous, and signet ring cell prostate cancer. Ductal prostate cancer grows within the urethra which causes it to narrow and leads to blood and difficulty urinating. Mucinous prostate cancer is very rare and does not respond well to treatments. Signet ring cell prostate cancer starts in another area of the body, like the bladder or stomach, and spread to the prostate. It is very rare that the signet ring cell cancer actually starts in the prostate.
- Basal Cell: Also known as adenoid cystic prostate cancer or basaloid carcinoma, this type of cancer is incredibly rare. It is known, like many other types of prostate cancer, to cause the narrowing of the urethra and causing urination issues.
- Transitional Cell: This cancer rarely starts in the prostate, but often begins in the bladder. It starts in the cells that line the urethra, and causes difficulty urinating and blood.
All of these types of cancer are terrible and dangerous, but they don’t always come alone. It is very normal to develop the common adenocarcinoma cancer, and develop another type, such as basal cell prostate cancer. The combination of different types of cancer often means that a variety of treatments are required.
Factors That Can Lead to Prostate Cancer
There are a couple characteristics and details that could possibly lead to or contribute to prostate cancer development.
- Age: Older men are more likely to get prostate cancer.
- Family History: If a family member has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, other members are more likely to get it in the future. This is incredibly likely if a father or brother was diagnosed, especially if they were diagnosed at a young age.
- Race: Studies have shown that in the United States, African-American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer. The reason why is unknown, but research has shown that African-American men are 2.4 times more likely to die from prostate cancer than Caucasian American men.
- Geography: Research has also known that residents of North America, Europe, Australia, and the Caribbean are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than people of Central America, Asia, Africa, and South America.
- Unhealthiness: Obesity and a poor diet are believed to be contributing factors in prostate cancer. Smoking is also known to increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Signs of Prostate Cancer
Sometimes there are no signs of prostate cancer, which is why doctors often stress the importance of frequent screenings, especially for older men. However, there are some warning signs of prostate cancer.
- Erectile dysfunction
- Problems urinating (i.e. bladder control, blood in urine, holding in urine, etc)
- Bowel control
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet
- Bone pain (common ones include the spine, hips, and ribs)
Testing For Prostate Cancer
Before one of the previous prostate cancers can be diagnosed, a test needs to be done. There are many different types of tests that depend of the type of cancer the doctor believes is present.
- PSA Test: The PSA, or Prostate Specific Antigen, test is important in identifying if there is any PSA in the blood stream. PSA is a protein that can be produced from cancer cells, and is a good way of identifying if the patient has prostate cancer. Men always have PSA in their blood, so the physician will be looking for abnormalities in PSA levels. However, it is important to note that prostate cancers such as sarcomas, small cell, and basal cell cannot be identified through a PSA test because they do not produce extra PSA.
- Transrectal Ultrasound (TRUS): This test required the placing of a small probe in the rectum which sends off sound waves that reach the prostate. This test can often pick up tumors if they are present.
- Prostate Biopsy: This process requires a needle entering the wall of the prostate gland. When the needle is removed, it will have removed a part of the prostate core tissue. This test is done a couple times because the doctor will need pieces of core tissue from numerous different areas of the prostate. Then, these pieces of core tissue will be tested for cancer.
If there are signs of cancer, there could be tests later on to see if the cancer has spread to other areas. This would include tests such as MRIs, bone scans, and/or CT scans.
Treating Prostate Cancer
If prostate cancer is detected, treatment will soon follow. There are numerous different types of treatments, depending on the severity of the cancer.
- Expectant management
- Radiation treatment
- Hormone therapy
- Vaccine treatment
For more information on prostate cancer contact Armor Men’s Health at (512) 238-0762 or click here.