Study shows that prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among male American adults. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reported that in 2018, approximately 160,000 people were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and about 30,000 succumbed to the disease. The treatment of prostate cancer is effective, especially at the early stages. Doctors recommend regular screenings to detect any signs of prostate cancer. To understand what prostate cancer is and how it affects you, there are many parties to consult, including cancer lawyers that specialize in cancer law.
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is characterized by a malignant (uncontrolled) growth of cells around the prostate gland. The prostate is located near the rectum and below the urinary bladder. The prostate has several functions, including producing a liquid that is essential in making semen, secreting prostate specific antigen (PSA), and regulating bladder control.
Prostate cancer can grow gradually over a long period. Some people diagnosed with prostate cancer live for long or succumb to other illnesses before the cancer causes significant complications. On the other hand, prostate cancer can be severe and can spread to other organs outside the prostate gland. The fast-paced 21st century has witnessed a significant reduction in prostate cancer mortality rates thanks to personalized treatment and early detection.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Detection of prostate cancer through screening is the most common way of getting to treat the disease early. There are often no signs of prostate cancer in the early stages. Screening involves two tests – Digital rectal examination (DRE) and PSA blood test. A DRE test is done by a doctor who physically inserts their finger in the rectum to feel any sign of irregularity. The PSA, blood test, on the other hand, measures levels of PSA in the blood. It is essential for detecting early-stage cancer.
Urinary problems are the most common symptoms of prostate cancer because the prostate surrounds the urethra. When a tumor grows on the prostate, it directly affects urinary functions by pressing on the urethra or bladder. Some of the urinary symptoms include:
- Difficulty when starting urination
- Interrupted flow of urine or difficulty in maintaining urine flow
- Blood in urine
- Pain while urinating
- Frequent urge to pass urine, mostly during the night
Sexual problems (erectile dysfunction) are also a sign of prostate cancer. Also known as impotence, this problem makes you unable to keep an erection. Males with prostate cancer may experience:
- Pain while ejaculating
- Difficulty in getting an erection
- Difficulty in maintaining an erection
- Discomfort or pain when sitting (enlarged prostate)
- Blood in semen
Advanced symptoms include:
- Enlarged prostate
- Bone pain or bone fracture, especially in the thighs, shoulders, or hips.
- Swelling in the feet and legs, or edema
- Feeling tired
- Weight loss
- Back pains
- Chest pains
- Pain in the lower pelvic area
- Change in bowel habits
Prostate cancer risk factors
Men are more vulnerable to developing prostate cancer as they grow older. It rarely affects young adults below 30. Damage to the DNA of prostate cells is likely to occur among men above the age of 50. Abnormal or damaged prostate cells form tumors and begin to grow out of control.
Research has shown that African American adult males are the most affected by the illness. One in six African American male adults has prostate cancer. They are also at risk of developing prostate cancer at an early age. Additionally, African American men develop aggressive tumors that spread and grow quickly, causing fatalities. No substantial conclusions have been made on why the disease is more prevalent in African American male adults. Some experts say it may be due to diet, socio-economic or environmental factors. Ethnicities such as Asians and Hispanics are less likely to develop prostate cancer.
Lifestyle and diet can contribute to prostate cancer. Obese or overweight people are at risk of getting prostate cancer. The risk is higher if you consume more animal fat, refined sugar, calories and eat fewer vegetables and fruits. Lack of physical exercise is also a risk factor. Ensure that you consume healthy foods and exercise regularly.
Doctors have advised on the need to quit smoking to lower the risk of prostate cancer. Study has shown heavy smokers are more vulnerable to developing the disease. It is also linked to a higher risk of succumbing to the illness.
Genetic history of prostate cancer among males in the family can put you at risk of developing the disease. A son is three times likely to get prostate cancer if his father had it. This risk is even higher among people with many relatives diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Research has shown the geographical area is also a significant risk factor. Prostate cancer numbers reported in North Europe and North America are much higher than those in other parts of the world. Some of the reasons may include lack of exercise habits, poor diets, heredity, environmental exposures, or even more screening procedures.
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