Prostate cancer

What is a prostate cancer?

    Prostate cancer originates in the prostate, a gland in males responsible for producing seminal fluid. Shaped like a small walnut, the prostate plays a vital role in nourishing and transporting sperm.

    As one of the most prevalent cancers, prostate cancer can exhibit varying growth rates. While some forms progress slowly and remain localized within the prostate, posing a minimal threat, others are aggressive and prone to rapid spread.

    Early detection of prostate cancer, while it remains confined to the prostate gland, offers the most favourable prospects for effective treatment. Therefore, timely diagnosis is critical in managing the condition effectively.

What are the causes of prostate cancer?

    The exact cause of prostate cancer remains uncertain.

    However, medical experts understand that prostate cancer initiates when cells within the prostate undergo alterations in their DNA. DNA serves as the blueprint that guides cellular functions. These genetic changes prompt the cells to proliferate at an accelerated rate compared to healthy cells. Unlike normal cells programmed to die off, these aberrant cells persist and accumulate.

    As these abnormal cells accumulate, they form a tumour, capable of invading neighbouring tissues. Eventually, some of these abnormal cells may detach and disseminate (metastasize) to distant parts of the body.

What are the risk factors of prostate cancer?

    Factors that may elevate your risk of developing prostate cancer include:

    1. Advanced Age: The likelihood of prostate cancer rises with age, particularly after reaching age 50.

    2. Race: Black individuals have a heightened risk of prostate cancer compared to other racial groups. Moreover, among Black individuals, prostate cancer tends to be more aggressive or advanced.

    3. Family History: A diagnosis of prostate cancer in a blood relative, such as a parent, sibling, or child, may elevate your risk. Additionally, if there's a family history of genetic mutations associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA2), or if there's a significant family history of breast cancer, your risk of prostate cancer may be higher.

    4. Obesity: Individuals classified as obese may face a higher risk of prostate cancer compared to those with a healthy weight, although research findings have been inconsistent. Moreover, in obese individuals, prostate cancer is more likely to exhibit aggressive characteristics and to recur after initial treatment.

Symptoms of prostate cancer

    In its early stages, prostate cancer may not present any noticeable signs or symptoms.

    However, as prostate cancer advances, it can manifest with the following signs and symptoms:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Weak or diminished force in the urine stream
  • Presence of blood in the urine
  • Presence of blood in the semen
  • Bone pain
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Erectile dysfunction

Complications of prostate cancer

  • Metastasis: Prostate cancer can spread to nearby organs like the bladder, or disseminate via the bloodstream or lymphatic system to the bones or other organs. Bone metastases may lead to pain and fractures. While treatment may control metastatic prostate cancer, it's typically not curable.
  • Incontinence: Prostate cancer and its treatment modalities can induce urinary incontinence. Management of incontinence hinges on its type, severity, and potential for improvement over time. Treatment options include medications, catheters, and surgical interventions.
  • Erectile dysfunction: Prostate cancer and its treatments, such as surgery, radiation, or hormone therapy, can result in erectile dysfunction. Various remedies like medications, vacuum devices, and surgical interventions exist to address erectile dysfunction.

When to see a doctor

    Schedule a consultation with your healthcare provider if you experience any persistent signs or symptoms that cause concern.

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