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Prostate Cancer - Symptoms, causes, types and treatment

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Living with a critical illness like cancer, especially prostate cancer, may require making specific lifestyle changes. This disease can be managed (and sometimes cured) with the help of treatments. Your doctor also plays an essential role in helping you deal effectively with the disease and lead a stress-free life. Here is an article that will help you get more information about prostate cancer.




What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that develops in the prostate gland in men. This gland creates seminal fluid. Prostate cancer's exact cause is unknown to researchers. However, they know it occurs when the genetic material (DNA) is altered. The genetic alterations can occasionally be inherited, which means you are born with them. Additionally, some genetic alterations can increase your risk of developing prostate cancer throughout your lifetime. But the precise reason for these genetic alterations is unknown.

What are the types of prostate cancer?

Following are the five types of prostate cancer found in men.

  1. Ductal Adenocarcinoma: It grows in the cells that border the prostate gland's tube. Compared to acinar adenocarcinoma, it spreads rapidly.

  2. Acinar Adenocarcinoma: It grows in the prostate gland cells.

  3. Small cell prostate cancer: Small, spherical cancer cells make up the neuroendocrine carcinoma.

  4. Squamous cell cancer: The flat cells that cover the prostate give rise to this type of cancer.

  5. Transitional cell cancer: It grows in the urethral lining cells. This is a tube that exists in the body to carry urine. Cancer might invade other tissues, including the bladder.

Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer

Following are the signs and symptoms of having prostate cancer. These are divided into stages at which the disease could be at.

Early signs Discomfort while urinating, Less control over the bladder, Frequent urination, Blood in urine, Blood in semen Low urine flow, Erectile dysfunction
Advanced Signs Numbness in legs, hips, feet, Pain that radiates from the bones, Swelling in the legs or the pelvic area
Symptoms after treatment, Jaundice, Pain in the lower back, Tiredness, Breathing difficulty, Discomfort while urinating, Blood in urine

What are the causes of prostate cancer?

As mentioned earlier, prostate cancer's specific cause is unknown to researchers. However, they have identified several risk factors and are investigating how these factors can result in the development of cancerous prostate cells. Genetic modifications to a healthy prostate cell's DNA leads to prostate cancer.

Here are contributing factors that can lead to this disease.

1) Our genes: There is insufficient evidence to establish that a particular gene in the body causes prostate cancer. However, the danger of contracting this fatal illness increases when specific genes, including HPC1, HPCX, HPC2, etc. Additionally, having BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes or having a family history of breast cancer raises the risk of prostate cancer.

2) Your age: As you become older, your risk of acquiring prostate cancer rises. Prostate cancer is more common in people over the age of 50. It is diagnosed in about 60% of adults that are 65 years or older.

3) Lifestyle: Opting for a healthy diet and way of life is essential to avoiding the growth of tumours in the body. Therefore, a sedentary lifestyle and frequently eating  processed food increase the risk of obesity. According to medical professionals, obesity and the emergence of prostate cancer are related.

4) Family history: People with a family history of this disease are more likely to suffer from it than others. Most often, inherited genes, lifestyle choices, or environmental factors have a role in the development of prostate cancer. Rarely does prostate cancer run in families. However, it can start if any of the following conditions exist.

  1. Before age 55, more than two close family members, including your uncle, grandmother, and nephew, received a prostate cancer diagnosis.

  2. Prostate cancer has been diagnosed in more than three first-degree family members (parents, siblings, and child).

  3. Prostate cancer runs in three generations on the same side of the family.

5) Eating habits: Advanced prostate cancer may be more common in men who consume a lot of fat, especially from red meat and other animal fat sources cooked at high heat. The disease is considerably more prevalent in nations where meat and dairy products are cornerstones of the diet.

What are the different stages of prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer can be divided into four stages depending upon the severity of the disease. The following are possible implications of each stage of prostate cancer.

  • Stage 1 prostate cancer is when it hasn't moved beyond your prostate gland. However, the cancer is still growing.  Most of the time, neither a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) nor imaging tests can detect the tumour in this stage. The tumour can affect half or less of one side of the prostate.  The PSA level is less than 10, and the Gleason score is six or less.

  • Stage 2 prostate cancer refers to a stage when the prostate cancer is progressing but has not spread beyond the prostate gland. The tumour may still not be visible on the scans or felt while the doctor performs a DRE. The PSA level is less than 20, and the Gleason score is seven or less.

  • In stage 3 of prostate cancer, it may have spread beyond the prostate gland. However, the lymph nodes are not yet affected. It may or may not be visible on scans or felt during the DRE. PSA could be at any level, and the Gleason score is 9 or 10.

  • Stage 4 prostate cancer refers to the time when cancer could affect other areas of the body like lymph nodes, bones, tissues, or other organs.

Prostate cancer staging systems

To assess the progression of prostate cancer, there are three different staging systems, Clinical, Pathological and TNM (Tumour, Node, Metastasis). The doctor can determine cancer progression throughout the body by using the staging system of the disease.

  1. Clinical stage: The clinical stage is based on the results of the DRA, PSE, or Gleason score. These exams establish whether any imaging tests are necessary. Doctors conduct imaging tests like X-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, and biopsies. Imaging scans will help doctors identify the stage of cancer in more detail.

  2. Pathological stage: A doctor may remove prostate tumours from a patient's body by surgery and laboratory testing.

  3. TNM: TNM was created by the American Joint Committee on Cancer. It is the most widely used prostate cancer staging method. The following questions are answered by this system for doctors.

  • Tumour: How big is the primary tumour in a tumour? What part of the body is it in?

  • Node: Have the lymph nodes been affected by the tumour? If so, how far has it progressed?

  • Metastasis: How much of cancer has metastasized to other organs?

In addition to TNM, doctors take into account additional tests when determining a patient's cancer stage. These tests consist of  PSA levels and Gleason scores.

What is Gleason score?

The Gleason score is determined by a medical practitioner based on the findings of a prostate tumour biopsy. Additionally, a score is determined by the number of cancer cells present, their location, and the extent of their dissemination. Doctors provide a score between 6 and 10 after summing the results. 

What is PSA level?

PSA is Prostate-Specific Antigen. In the prostate, both healthy and malignant cells produce the protein known as PSA. Your risk of developing prostate cancer increases with a higher PSA level in your blood.

Possible treatments for prostate cancer

When treating cancer, numerous medical specialities, including radiation oncologists, surgeons, and medical oncologists, frequently work together to create a thorough treatment plan that may combine different cancer therapy modalities. Oncology nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, social workers, pharmacists, counsellors, nutritionists, physical therapists, and other medical professionals are some of the medical specialists that are an integral part of cancer care teams. They will help you decide the best course of action based on your unique profile.

Following are a set of treatments that your medical team may suggest.

  1. Active surveillance: The cancer is closely watched during active surveillance for indications that it is getting worse. Treatment will start if it is determined that the cancer is getting worse.

  2. Watchful waiting: This strategy typically avoids routine DRE, PSA tests, and biopsies. Doctors may suggest this treatment to address the symptoms of prostate cancer if they include pain or obstruction of the urinary tract.

  3. Surgery: The prostate and surrounding lymph nodes are removed during an operation. A surgical oncologist is a doctor specialising in using surgery to treat cancer. The surgical oncologist treating prostate cancer is a urologist, sometimes a urologic oncologist. The illness stage, the patient's overall health, and other factors influence the procedure.

  4. Radiation therapy: Utilising high-energy rays to kill cancer cells is known as radiation treatment. Radiation oncologists are medical professionals specialising in administering radiation therapy as a cancer treatment. Often known as a schedule, a radiation therapy regimen typically has a predetermined number of sessions spread out over a predetermined amount of time.

  5. Focal therapy: Small prostate tumours can be removed with the help of focal therapies, which are less intrusive procedures. For the most part, low-risk or intermediate-risk prostate cancer, these treatments use heat, cold, and other techniques to treat the disease. Clinical trials are being conducted to examine focal treatments. The majority of them are not recognised as common therapy alternatives.

  6. Medication: Cancer cells are eliminated through medical treatments that involve drugs. Medication might be injected into the bloodstream to reach cancer cells all across the body. This type of drug administration is referred to as systemic treatment. A medical oncologist, a physician, focusing on using medication to treat cancer, prescribes this kind of treatment.

Prevention for prostate cancer

There is no foolproof method by which prostate cancer can be completely avoided, but there are certain things you may do to reduce your risk. Things like maintaining healthy body weight, exercising frequently, and watching what you eat and drink are essential. Here are more ways that can help avoid the disease.

  1. Adopt a diet that is heavy in foods which combat inflammation.

  2. Reduce your calorie intake and exercise to keep your weight in check. Regular exercise can lower a man's risk of acquiring deadly forms of prostate cancer when done within the limits of safety for his particular degree of physical fitness. Obesity is associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer recurrence and death.

  3. Exceptionally high calcium intake may raise the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Unless your doctor has prescribed supplements, try to acquire most of your calcium from plant-based dietary sources (such as almonds, tofu, and leafy greens) instead of supplements.

Frequently asked questions

Following are some common questions related to prostate cancer.

Can prostate cancer be cured?


Prostate cancer can be cured if it is detected in its early stages. For other patients, it can be managed with the help of regular treatment.

What is Immunotherapy?


A more recent cancer treatment called immunotherapy stimulates the patient's immune system to attack cancer. Different cancer types can be treated with immunotherapy, and it may be successful in curing even the most difficult-to-treat and advanced tumours.

What are the common side effects of prostate cancer surgery?


Prostate cancer surgery's most common side effects are loss of bladder control and erectile dysfunction.

Does masturbation cause prostate cancer?


Studies have shown that ejaculation through masturbation or sex can decrease the chances of prostate cancer. The exact cause of this is unknown, but researchers think that ejaculation can clear out certain chemicals from the body that can lead to this disease, decreasing the risk.

How does prostate cancer occur?


Prostate cancer occurs when there are changes in the DNA of the cells that are present in the prostate glands.

How to avoid prostate cancer naturally?


You can do the following things to avoid prostate cancer naturally.

  1. Eat a healthy diet.

  2. Keep your weight in check.

  3. Engage in regular physical activity.

  4. Avoid smoking.

  5. Go out in the sun.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. As this content piece is not vetted by a medical professional, please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.



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