Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that affects men. Prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system and cancer starts to grow here. Prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer and initially remains restricted to the gland only and does not cause serious harm.
Men with prostate cancer sometimes are not even aware about the cancer. In most cases, the discovery of having prostate cancer happens only when men die of old age and an autopsy is performed.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
You will not find any early signs or symptoms of prostate cancer. The following symptoms maybe experienced when the prostate gland swells or if the cancer starts to spread beyond the prostate:
- Need to urinate frequently, especially during night
- Problems in starting to urinate or to stop the flow of urine
- Weak urinary stream or interrupted stream
- Urine leaks when laughing or coughing
- Unable to urinate when in standing position
- Pain or burning sensation when urinating or during ejaculation
- Presence of blood in urine or semen
These symptoms may occur due to the blockage caused by cancerous or non-cancerous growth in the prostate and sometime also due to urinary tract infection.
The symptoms will change or increase as the prostate cancer advances. People with advanced prostate cancer may suffer from the following symptoms:
- Stiffness or dull and deep pain in the pelvis, lower back, ribs or upper thighs
- Pain in the bones of those areas mentioned above
- Nausea, vomiting, fatigue, constipation and loss of appetite and weight
- Swelling of the lower extremities
- weakness or get paralysis in the lower limbs
When to see a doctor
You should see a doctor when the following happens:
- If you develop symptoms of trouble urinating, or pain during urination, then you should get your prostate examined by a doctor, who will rule out enlargement, infection or cancer of the prostate gland
- If you have unexplained weight loss, swollen legs, difficulty in walking or weakness in legs along with constipation
- Chronic and severe pain in the lower back, pelvic area, upper thighs and bones
Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer
The exact cause of prostate cancer is not very clear. What is known is that the cancer occurs when some cells in prostate become abnormal and the mutations in the DNA of the abnormal cells cause the cells to grow and divide more rapidly than normal cells do.
Some of the risk factors for prostate cancer are:
- Age: The risk of prostate cancer increases with age and is more common after the age of 65.
- Ethnic group: The reason is not very clear, but black men are more susceptible to prostate cancer. The prostate cancer also tends to be very aggressive or advanced in black men.
- Family history: If you have family history of BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation or if the women in your family have history of breast cancer, your risk of getting prostate cancer increases. Family history of prostate cancer also increases the risk.
- Overweight: Obesity increases the severity of prostate cancer and it is more difficult to treat.
- Diet: Similar to other cancers, if you take diet rich in fats and poor in fresh fruits and vegetables, you will have greater risk of it.
- Cadmium metal exposure can increase the risk of prostate cancer as well.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Prostate Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, all men over 20 should have cancer-related checks as a part of their general health checkups. Besides cancer, these checkups should include health counseling and also detection of skin, thyroid, mouth, lymph and testicular cancer.
Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer can be diagnosed by means of ultrasound, x-rays, biopsy or blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Physical examination would include feeling the prostate by the walls of the rectum.
Treatments of Prostate Cancer
The stage of cancer will determine the course of treatment. The stage is determined by checking the rate of growth and the difference of the cancer cells from the surrounding tissue. Various treatment options are available and would differ from individual to individual. Some of the options available are careful monitoring or watchful waiting, surgery, radiation therapy, chemo therapy and hormone therapy. A combination of all these can also be undertaken.
How to Live With Prostate Cancer
1. Stay Calm
It is important that you do not panic. It is manageable and more treatable than other diseases and it also does not spread as fast as other cancers. Regular checkups will help in catching the disease at an early stage when it is easier to cure and recurrence risk is low.
2. Make Some Preparation
Spend time on the internet, talk to other patients and take advice from several doctors regarding your condition. All factors such as your age, health, work schedule, stage and aggressiveness of the cancer and the points which you are willing to risk including potency and continence should be discussed and best course of action taken.
3. Control Your Weight and Maintain a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet containing soy protein, tomato sauce, citrus fruits, and green tea will ensure supply of anti-oxidants and help in fighting the disease. You should also ensure that animal fats are reduced in the diet. Maintaining ideal body weight is beneficial as well.
4. Exercise Regularly
It is found that men who exercise regularly showed a lower incidence of prostate cancer. Exercise is good for overall health. It helps to maintain weight and improve mood by secreting hormones like endorphin.
5. Seek Support from Your Friends and Family
Talking to someone close from your family or friends will be helpful. Asking for help in tasks which you are unable to do during treatment and getting support from family members and friends during this time is crucial and reduces stress.
6. Find Help from Other Cancer Survivors
No one would understand your situation better than other cancer survivors. Search for online chat forums or ask your doctor for existing support groups and connect with other cancer survivors. The support provided by them is unique and they are easier to talk and relate to.
The following video tells Dr. Drew’s experience of fighting off prostate cancer: