The prostate gland is an organ that is located at the base or outlet (neck) of the urinary bladder. (See the diagram.) The gland surrounds the first part of the urethra.
The urethra is the passage through which urine drains from the bladder to exit from the penis. One function of the prostate gland is to help control urination by pressing directly against the part of the urethra that it surrounds. Prostate cancer develops most frequently in men over fifty. This cancer can occur only in men, as the prostate is exclusively of the male reproductive tract.
It is the most common type of cancer in men in the United States, where it is responsible for more male deaths than any other cancer, except lung cancer. Stages of Prostate Cancer The cancer is very small and completely inside the prostate gland which feels normal when a rectal examination is done The cancer is still inside the prostate gland, but is larger and a lump or hard area can be felt when a rectal examination is done The cancer has broken through the covering of the prostate and may have grown into the seminal vesicles The cancer has grown into the neck of the bladder, rectum or pelvic wall, or has spread to the lymph nodes or another part of the body. Causes The cause of prostate cancer isn't fully understood at present.
But there are certain factors that make prostate cancer more likely, which are listed below. The risk of prostate cancer increases steadily with age and it is rare in men under 50. Your risk is higher if you have close relatives (a father, uncle or brother) who have had prostate cancer.
If several women in your family have had breast cancer (especially if they were diagnosed at under 40 years of age) an inherited faulty gene may be present. The gene may also increase the risk of the men in that family getting prostate cancer. If you are African-Caribbean or African-American you are at highest risk whereas if you are Asian, you are at lower risk. A high fat diet may increase your risk.
Treatment for Prostate Cancer Radical prostatectomy or surgical removal of the prostate. This is usually performed by urologists. When possible, doctors perform a nerve-sparing procedure that reduces the side effect of sexual dysfunction.
External-beam radiation. This is performed by a radiation oncologist and is designed to maximize radiation to the prostate and to minimize radiation to the bladder and rectum. Brachytherapy. A radiation oncologist implants some 100 tiny radioactive "seeds" into the prostate. This sometimes is done in combination with external-beam radiation or radiation applied via removable catheters. Hormone therapy involves trying to stop your body from producing the male sex hormones testosterone, which can stimulate the growth of cancer cells.
This type of therapy can also block hormones from getting into cancer cells. Sometimes doctors use a combination of drugs to achieve both. In most men with advanced prostate cancer, this form of treatment is effective in helping both shrink the cancer and slow the growth of tumors. Estrogen Therapy: The most commonly used estrogen in prostate cancer is diethylstilbestrol or DES.
Hormone therapy with estrogen has limited use and is generally considered only for patients who cannot have surgery or to relieve pain in patients with prostate cancer that is progressing. Estrogens were once considered standard treatment for prostate cancer, but this is not the case today. Other drugs with fewer side effects have replaced DES.
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