Prostate Cancer

By Jarrett Ellington

What Is it?

Prostate Cancer one of the most common cancer in American. The cancer is the male's prostate, which is a small gland shaped like a walnut that is in the center of a man's body within the pelvis.One in 6 American men will develop prostate cancer during their lifetime. However, there are many other men who have prostate cancer who do not develop symptoms and who are never diagnosed with prostate cancer.

What Are The Symptoms?

The symptoms of prostate cancer may include problems with urination and sexual function. As the prostate grows larger it can squeeze the urethra and cause frequent, small urination, difficulty beginning urination or even an inability to urinate. The flow of urine can start and stop, be weak, or create pain or a burning feeling. Erection may hurt and there can be blood in the urine or semen. Pain may also occur in the back, hips or upper thighs.

How Is It Diagnosed?

The blood level of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), an enzyme made by the prostate gland, and a digital rectal examination (DRE) are two tests that are currently used for the detection of prostate cancer. If the level of PSA in the blood is higher than normal, or if the DRE finds any enlargement or unusual lumps in the prostate, it can mean that a man has prostate cancer.

Is There a Treatment?

Treatment of prostate cancer depends on when the diagnosis is made and how severe the disease is at that time. Small clusters of early stage prostate cancer can be found in many men in a form that is harmless. Doctors would surgically remove it if its life threating. Sometimes, the doctor may take a "wait and watch approach" to these early cancers, and follow the man with regular PSA blood tests and physical exams. Often the disease can be managed this way for years, as long as the progression is slow.

How Is It Inherited?

Many types of epidemiologic studies (case-control, cohort, twin, family) strongly suggest that prostate cancer susceptibility genes exist in the population. Hereditary prostate cancer susceptibility genes were predicted to account for almost half of early-onset disease (age 55 years or younger). In addition, early-onset disease has been further supported to have a strong genetic component from the study of common variants associated with disease onset before age 55 years.

What Is The Patient's Lifespan?

A man's age is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer. It is rare for a man to develop prostate cancer before the age of 40. After age 50 the chance of having prostate cancer increases rapidly, and the patient might live another 3-5 years without treatment.

What Is Some of The Current Research?

Researchers are looking at newer forms of treatment for early stage prostate cancer. These new treatments could be used either as the first type of treatment or after radiation therapy in cases where it was not successful. One treatment, known as high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), destroys cancer cells by heating them with highly focused ultrasonic beams. This treatment has been used more in Europe, but it is not available outside of clinical trials in the United States at this time. Studies are now under way to determine its safety and effectiveness.

Is There a Genetic Screening Test?

Screening for prostate cancer with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test has led to overtreatment of many prostate cancers, including aggressive treatments in older men considered to be at low risk for progression of the disease.