The second leading disease caused death among males in North America is prostate cancer. It is also the most common form of cancer in the male population. It is most commonly diagnosed in men over the age of 65 and increases in incidence with advancing age. Approximately 189,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer every year and of those diagnosed 30,000 will die because of it. The good news is that the incidence of death from it is decreasing as medical science make advances in its diagnosis and treatment. |
If diagnosed early enough and the cancer is confined to the prostate it is entirely curable with a survival rate of 100%. If the cancer has spread regionally this percentage drops to a 95% survival rate. For 75% of all men who have prostate cancer are diagnosed at one of these two stages. Many men live and then die with prostate cancer without ever knowing they had it, showing no signs or symptoms until an autopsy is performed.
Most medical research points to androgens having a role in the development of prostate cancer, but the exact cause still remains unknown. The majority of prostate cancer develops in the peripheral zones of the gland, and for the most part are all adenocarcinomas. Because of this there is increased risk of the cancer spreading to the prostatic capsule.
The tumor may compress the urethra and block urinary flow as it grows. If it metastasizes it may affect the seminal vesicles or bladder as well as spread by lymph and venous channels, which is a common occurrence if left untreated.
During the early stages of prostate cancer many men do not experience any symptoms, or are asymptomatic. The first symptom usually noticed is bone pain, after the cancer has metastasized to the bones of the pelvic area. The size, location, and malignancy of the tumor will affect any urinary symptoms that are encountered. These symptoms will be similar to that experienced by men who have benign prostatic hyperplasia and can include urinary urgency, frequency, hesitancy, dysuria, and nocturia. Sexually active men may notice hematuria or blood in their ejaculate.
Secondary metastasis to the bones and in particular the vertebrae is the usual cause of death from prostate cancer. Loss of mobility and bowel an bladder function can result because the spine is more susceptible to compression fractures. Life threatening anemia and impaired immune function can also result as tumors eventually invade the bone marrow.
Besides age another significant risk factor for prostate cancer is race. Those with the highest incidences of this form of cancer in the world are African Americans, more then doubling the rate of white males who are diagnosed. Unfortunately this group is also more likely to be diagnosed later during the disease cycle and also have twice the mortality rate of other racial groups. Those with the lowest rate of diagnosed prostate cancer include Asians and Native Americans.
Men also need to be aware of other risk factors that include:
1. Men who have a family history of the disease are at greater risk then those who do not.
2. Men who have vasectomies are at a higher risk because this increases the levels of free circulating testosterone.
3. Diet can play a role. Men who eat high fat diets with lots of red meat and are deficient in vitamin A, vitamin D, lycopene, and selenium are at a greater risk.
4. Not getting enough sun exposure can also play a role.
It is important for all men to have regular screenings for prostate cancer once they reach the age of 45. The best treatment for this devastating disease is to catch it early because the sooner it is found and treated the greater the chance of a cure.
To learn more about Prostate Cancer and it risk factors please visit the website Prostate Health Answers by clicking here.
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