Facts about prostate cancer

AT some point in their lives, all men face the prospect of prostate cancer.

The Manica Post - - Health / Faith - Dr Zuze Mat­ters of Health

THIS is one of the com­mon­est can­cers found in men. The prostate, by the way, is a small gland lo­cated just un­der the blad­der that pro­duces the sem­i­nal fluid which nour­ishes and trans­ports sperm dur­ing sex­ual in­ter­course.

In the early stages of prostate cancer, there may be no signs or symp­toms.

Ad­vanced prostate cancer, how­ever, may man­i­fest as dif­fi­culty in pass­ing urine, re­duced force in the stream of urine, blood in the urine, blood in se­men, pain in the lower back, hips or thighs, pelvic dis­com­fort, bone pain and erec­tile dys­func­tion.

It is not clear what re­ally causes prostate cancer. It be­gins when some cells in the prostate be­come ab­nor­mal and be­gin to grow and di­vide more rapidly than nor­mal cells do. These ab­nor­mal can­cer­ous cells live longer than or­di­nary cells. The ac­cu­mu­lat­ing ab­nor­mal cells form a tu­mour that can grow to in­vade nearby tis­sue while some ab­nor­mal cells spread to other parts of the body via the blood­stream.

The fac­tors that would make one more likely to get prostate cancer in­clude;

Old age. The risk of prostate cancer in­creases with age. They say by the age of 80 years, 80 per­cent of men will have prostate cancer.

Race. Black men have a higher risk of prostate cancer than other races. Prostate cancer, for some rea­son, is also more ag­gres­sive in black men.

Fam­ily his­tory. You are at a higher risk if men in your fam­ily have had prostate cancer. You will also be at higher risk if the women in your fam­ily are prone to breast cancer.

Obe­sity. Obese men with prostate cancer are more likely to have ad­vanced dis­ease which is more dif­fi­cult to treat.

Prostate cancer is not with­out com­pli­ca­tions. These in­clude

Me­tas­ta­sis; where the cancer spreads to nearby or­gans or trav­els through the blood to dis­tant or­gans. In the bones, it causes weak­ness and chronic bone pain and it also dis­rupts the func­tion of var­i­ous or­gans giv­ing vary­ing symp­toms. Once it has spread, it can no-longer be cured and will ul­ti­mately lead to death.

In­con­ti­nence; which is fail­ure to con­trol the flow of urine. A uri­nary catheter, which is a tube in­serted through the ure­thra, as well as some med­i­ca­tions and surgery may be use­ful in con­trol­ling this.

Erec­tile dys­func­tion; may re­sult from the ac­tual prostate cancer or from var­i­ous med­i­ca­tions used in its treat­ment.

Screen­ing for prostate cancer is a use­ful way of catch­ing it early.

A dig­i­tal rec­tal exam in­volves your doc­tor in­sert­ing a gloved fin­ger into your rec­tum and feel­ing for the prostate. If it feels sus­pi­cious, fur­ther tests would be needed. A prostate spe­cific anti­gen (PSA) test in­volves send­ing a blood sam­ple to the lab. High PSA lev­els may in­di­cate prostate in­fec­tion, en­large­ment or cancer. Stud­ies, how­ever, haven’t re­ally proved that these screen­ing tests save lives and the de­bate is on­go­ing.

A biopsy is usu­ally nec­es­sary to con­firm prostate cancer and once the di­ag­no­sis is made other tests in­clud­ing a bone scan, ul­tra­sound or CT scan may be done to de­ter­mine how far the cancer has spread. Prostate cancer is staged from 1 to 4 with stage 4 be­ing the worst. There are var­i­ous treat- ment op­tions, de­pend­ing on the stage and these in­clude med­i­ca­tion, surgery, chemo­ther­apy or ra­dio­ther­apy.

Al­ter­na­tive prostate cancer treat­ments that may help you cope with the stress and anx­i­ety of a di­ag­no­sis of cancer in­clude ex­er­cise, med­i­ta­tion, mu­sic ther­apy, re­lax­ation tech­niques and spir­i­tu­al­ity among oth­ers.

In men, prostate cancer is al­most in­evitable but the fol­low­ing may help re­duce your risk.

Eat a healthy diet; avoid high fat foods and in­clude plenty of fruits, veg­eta­bles and whole grains in your diet. A nu­tri­ent called ly­copene which is found in raw pota­toes has been found to help prostate cancer preven­tion.

Ex­er­cise; ex­er­cise im­proves your over­all health, helps you main­tain your weight and im­proves your mood. Some ev­i­dence sug­gests that men who get the most ex­er­cise have a lower in­ci­dence of prostate cancer.

Main­tain a healthy weight. Your doc­tor can help cre­ate a plan for healthy weight loss.

Stop smok­ing. Smok­ing in­creases your risk of not only prostate cancer but al­most all can­cers.

If you are wor­ried about prostate cancer or need prostate cancer screen­ing, please visit your doc­tor.

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