Prostate cancer is cancer of the prostate gland. The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. This gland is locates inside the body at the base of the penis, just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is composed of the glandular and fibrous tissue enclosed in a capsule of connective tissue. The prostate is in the shape of a donut and about the size of a walnut. It surrounds the first inch or so of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder. Normal functions of the prostate depend on the presence of the male hormone testosterone, which is produced by the testes. The prostate produces semen, the thick, whitish fluid that carries sperm.
Cancer of the prostate has become the number one cancer in American men. In the United States, approximately 1 in every 11 men will develop prostate cancer during his lifetime. Prostate cancer becomes increasingly common with each decade of life. Over 80 percent of all cases are diagnosed in men over 65.
The incidence of prostate cancer increased 47 percent from 1973 to 1987, about a 2.6 percent increase each year. It is estimated that 106,00 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the US during the 1990. Black men in the US have the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the world.
Little is known about the cause of prostate cancer, and it is seldom possible to explain why a man has developed this disease. Scientists believe that cancer of the prostate develops over a period of many years as a result of gradual changes in the cells. No single theory explains the development of this disease, but a number of possible causes have been suggested. Investigations have focused on four general areas: genetic predisposition (heredity), hormonal influences, environmental and lifestyle factors, and sexually transmitted agents, including viruses. Data from population studies have produced opposite results. Some studies suggest a genetic predisposition to prostate cancer and an increased risk for blood relatives of men with the disease. However, other studies have not confirmed a genetic link.
Data from studies of people migrating from one geographic area to another point to the importance of the environment as a factor, including diet, in the development of prostate cancer. Some doctors suggest that a diet rich in fat increases the risk of prostate cancer.
Scientists have suspected that hormones contribute to the development of prostate cancer. Men who’s testicles were removed before puberty have little risk of developing this disease, apparently because the primary source of male hormones was removed. Currently, scientists are comparing testosterone production and metabolism in prostate cancer patients and their brothers as well as in men from families who do not have prostate cancer. Many studies have also been done with cancer causing agents. The results have not been very conclusive.
The possible role of sexually transmitted viral diseases in the development of prostate cancer has been examined by many researchers. Currently there are no conclusive results, but scientists are working hard.
To detect prostate cancer a person has to go to his doctor and get examined. Because the cause of prostate cancer remain unknown, pretension of the disease is not yet possible. However, when the disease is detected early , treatment is usually successful.
The only treatment for prostate cancer is early detection. To determine the cause of any of these symptoms, the doctor begins by taking a careful medical history, performing a through physical exam, and ordering laboratory tests.
Enlargement of the gland or the presence of firm or irregular areas in the prostate indicate a need for additional tests. These tests usually include urinalysis, blood studies, and X-rays.
If the doctor suspects prostate cancer, the patient is usually referred to a specialist, such as a surgeon or urologist, for a biopsy(which is the only way to see is prostate cancer is in the body). If the biopsy shows that the patient has prostate cancer then the patient is reviewed by a medical team.
The survival rate of prostate cancer patient’s has increased since the 1950’s. Some factors of these events can be explained by a combination of factors. There have been more frequent diagnosis of early cancers, the cancer is being diagnosed at earlier stages, and the treatment has improved.
To treat a person doctors have to know the patient’s medical history age and other important facts about the persons life. One type of treatment is surgery, surgery depends on the size and other aspects of prostate cancer.
Another way of treating prostate cancer is radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is the application of high energy rays or particles to destroy cancerous tissue. It takes about 6 to 7 weeks of radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer.
Hormone therapy is another way of treating prostate cancer. Hormone therapy is used only when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Scientists may take out a hormone from the prostate or give a hormone to the body.
Chemotherapy is the last type of treating cancer. It is when the doctors use anti-cancer drugs. This method is usually used when the cancer is very severe and has spread to other parts of the body.
To improve the outcome of treatment for patient’s with prostate cancer, the National Cancer Institute supports clinical trials at many hospitals through out the United States. Treatment is being studied on animals and have been improving. Cancer can’t be cured but as humans have done throughout history they will find a way to overcome tragedy.