Questions & Answers
Being diagnosed with prostate cancer can be an extremely difficult experience. You may feel overwhelmed and helpless at first. You are not alone! The projected risk of a 50 year old man being diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime has been estimated to be about 10%. Men diagnosed with prostate cancer quickly learn that they have powerful options to help them fight against their disease. Below are some common questions we get:
What is the Prostate?
The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive system. The main purpose of the prostate is to product fluid for the semen, which transports sperm during the male ejaculation. Normally, the prostate is quite small – it is nearly the same size and shape of a chestnut. It is location in front of the rectum, just below the bladder, and wraps around the urethra 0 the tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the tip of the penis.
What is Cancer?
Cancer is a disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth and potential spread of abnormal cells. The human body is made up of billions of cells. Normally, cells reproduce themselves by dividing so that growth occurs. When cells grow abnormally and become a mass, it is called a tumor. Some tumors are benign (nto malignant). Others are malignant (cancerous). The growth of a benign tumor may interfere with body functions, such as urinating, but these tumors are seldom life threatening. On the other hand, a malignant tumor invades and destroys the surrounding tissue. By a process called metastasis (muh-tas-tuh-sis), cells break away from a cancerous tumor and spread through the blood and lymph nodes to other parts of the body, where they form new tumors.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate Cancer is a malignant tumor that begins in the prostate gland. It is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in men in the US. Over 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed annually in the US. During the past 25 years, overall 50year survival rates for all stages of prostate cancer combined have increased from 69% to nearly 100%. This means that more men are living longer after being diagnosed. Some of the possible reasons for this increase in survival rates include public awareness and early detection. However, every man is unique, and statistics can't predict what will happen in your case. Talk with our doctors if you have any questions about your own condition.
What role does Testosterone play?
Testosterone, a key hormone in men, is part of the normal growth and function of the prostate gland. The testes produce most of man's testosterone, although small amounts are also produced by the adrenal glands. Testosterone is a concern for those diagnosed with prostate cancer. Testosterone can help certain prostate cancer cells multiply. As a result, as long as the body produces testosterone, prostate cancer will most likely continue to grow and possibly spread.
Who gets prostate cancer?
More than 65% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65. Information regarding first-degree relatives (such as father) has shown an overall increase in the risk of prostate cancer of 2 to 11 times in men who have a history of the disease in their family. Many researchers believe this is because of genetic factors. The death rate for prostate cancer is more than 2 times higher in African American men than in Caucasian men. Because of this additional risk, the American Cancer Society recommends that, beginning at age 45, African American men be given information about screening for prostate cancer so they can make an informed choice about whether to be screened.
What causes Prostate Cancer?
Cancer begins in your cells. Cells are the building blocks that form you tissues, which in turn make up the organs in you body. Normally, cells grow and divide to form new ones, so they can replace damaged or dead cells. Normally cells “know” when to stop growing and dividing. But cancer cells are different – they no longer “know” when to stop growing and dividing, so they keep building up extra cells, forming a mass or tumor. Although the eact cause of prostate cancer has nto been identified, researchers believe that up to 90% of prostate cancer happens from an alteration of a man's normal genetic code that is not related to his family genes. Age is the most common factor, with more than 65% of prostate cancer cases occurring in men aged 65 and older. Other risk factors include family history, race, and possibly diet. African American men have the highest rate of prostate cancer, while Asian & Native American men have the lowest rates. As the tumor grows, it may spread from the outer part of the prostate ot the inner part of the prostate, eventually putting pressure on the areas such as the urethra. This may block the flow of urine from the bladder and cause other urinary problems, which are usually the first symptoms of prostate cancer. If untreated, prostate cancer can spread from the prostate to the nearby lymph nodes, bones, or other organs. The spread is called metastasis. As a result of a metastasis, many men experience aches and pains in the pelvis, hips, ribs, back ot other bones.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer may include:
- Frequent Urination (especially at night)
- Weak Urinary Stream
- Inability to Urinate
- Interruption of Urinary Stream (stopping and starting)
- Pain and Burning on Urination
- Blood in the Urine
- Pain in Lower Back, Pelvis, or Upper Thighs