Health

Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer

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Unfortunately relatively few men understand the importance of the prostate gland and overall prostate health. The prostate gland is a small gland situated just below the bladder. Any enlargement of this gland can cause problems with urination and occasionally impotence. Looking for a sign or symptom of prostate cancer is something that few men think about – until there is a problem that needs attention.

There are several reasons why a prostate gland can become enlarged, one of which is prostate cancer. The causes of prostate cancer are not known for sure because some men develop the disease but never even know they have it and so rarely report it to their doctor. Thus a clear picture of the causal factors has not, as yet, been produced. Some men are deemed to be more at risk of developing prostate cancer than others but this doesn’t mean that only a particular group of men are a risk; ALL men are capable of developing the disease and as it is one of the main types of cancer to kill men it should be taken very seriously.

The risk factors associated with prostate cancer include age, race, increased hormone levels, diet, and of course genetic inheritance. Age is the main risk factor because as the body ages it becomes more susceptible to all cancers, including prostate cancer. In fact nearly half of all men over the age of 70 will have the illness even though many of them will not know about it.

The prostate cancer survival rate depends on a number of factors, the most important of which is whether the primary tumour in the prostate gland has invaded the surrounding tissues and spread to other areas of the body. If the cancerous cells are still confined to the prostate gland then with treatment the patient has a much higher chance of long term survival than if it has spread to additional organs.

There are a number of specific tests that can be carried out to see how far the cancer has progressed and where in the body it has spread to, if anywhere. Combinations of the tests are generally carried out on a patient so as to get an overall picture of where the cancer is and what stage it is in. All cancers, including prostate cancer can be classified as being in one of four stages, the earliest of which has the best rate of survival. As the cancer continues to progress and spread it advances to the next stage and the chance of long term survival decreases. Thus, with regards to prostate cancer it is important to consult a doctor as soon as there is a problem with urination or sexual function as the disease is much easier to treat if it is still within the first two stages.

Unfortunately there is no real form of prostate cancer prevention although a change in lifestyle and diet may help to some degree. As the causes of the disease are not fully understood it is impossible to avoid the causative agents.

Early prostate cancer symptoms are very similar to the symptoms caused by a number of other prostate gland infections and so prostate cancer itself can be quite hard to diagnose. In addition, many men never suffer from any of the symptoms associated with prostate cancer or show signs that they have developed the disease. The symptoms that do become common as the tumour continues to grow are nearly always associated with urine flow because the tumour often squeezes the tube that takes urine from the bladder to the penis making it progressively more difficult to pee. Occasionally the enlarged prostate may also irritate the bladder which lies above it and so produce the feeling of needing to pee more often.

If prostate cancer does not receive treatment early in its course and the malignant cells spread around the body the patient will often have symptoms from the areas and organs that it has spread to. These can be the first symptoms of the disease and in some cases can prove to be both painful and debilitating.

However all is not lost if an enlarged prostate gland is diagnosed as being malignant as there are a number of prostate cancer treatments available. The treatment received by a patient will depend primarily on the degree of progression of the disease. Surgery, chemotherapy, and more commonly radiotherapy are all methods currently used to treat prostate cancer although worldwide research is now starting to find new treatments for prostate cancer that are very definite possibilities for the future.

Some new remedies claim to prevent the development of prostate cancer and although they may in fact do this there is, as yet, no established scientific data to back up these claims. Therefore, these remedies should not be relied on to prevent prostate cancer and their claims should be taken with a huge pinch of salt.

Prostate cancer is a lethal disease and because many suffers don’t even realise they have it until it is too late to surgically remove it, it should be tested for as soon as any symptoms are felt. Until recently prostate cancer, and in fact anything associated with the prostate gland, was a taboo subject in public and so information about the disease has been slow in reaching the general public. Today, more men are aware of the danger than ever before but still many men feel embarrassed to visit the doctor with a problem. It is only when the stigma attached to the disease is completely removed that men stand a real chance of beating it.



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