Prostate Cancer: Overview and Risk Factors

Prostate cancer is second to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men in the United States. This cancer can sometimes be slow-growing and pose a low risk for the patient, while other times it can grow rapidly and present great health risks. It is possible to treat and cure prostate cancer if detected early. It is important for men to get an annual check-up to assess their prostate size, texture, as well as general function.

The prostate is part of the male reproductive systems. It is approximately the same size as a walnut and lies between the bladder, the base of penis and the prostate. The prostate’s centre is home to the urethra, which is the tube that transports urine from the bladder and sex hormones out through its penis. Any condition or disease that causes an increase in prostate size or inflammation can cause urinary problems. An enlarged prostate can compress the urethra, causing it to flow less urine.

The prostate has two major functions. It lubricates the ejaculation process by making and adding fluids (semen, seminal fluids), and it increases the pH to make the vagina more welcoming and more favorable for fertilization. When the man is sexually stimulated, it produces prostatic fluid.

Normal cell growth and division is a normal process. Cells produce more cells to maintain a healthy body. Sometimes, prostate protocol however, the process can go wrong and cells form abnormal cells that create more cells. This extra tissue is called a tumour or growth. However, tumours can be benign (not malignant) or cancerous (cancerous). A malignant tumour forms in the prostate tissue, which is the cause of prostate cancer. To grow and survive in its early stages, it requires testosterone, a male hormone.

Sometimes, cancer cells can also escape from the prostate’s malignant tumour and travel to other parts of the body via the bloodstream and lymphatic systems. Metastatic prostate cancer is a form of cancer that spreads from the prostate to other parts of the body, such as the bone. The appearance of the cancer cells can often indicate whether it is slow growing, relatively harmless, or more aggressive and deadly.

Other medical conditions can also affect the prostate. Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia BPH (often referred to as benign prostatic hypertrophy), is one example of a benign, non-cancerous enlargement. This condition is becoming more common with age. This can lead to urinary tract obstruction and other problems. Prostatitis is a second non-cancerous inflammation that can cause burning sensations when you urinate. Prostate cancers that are clinically important can be described as those that pose a threat to a man’s well-being and life span.

Prostate Cancer Prevalence

This is a preponderantly a disease that affects elderly men, and it is the most common type of cancer among American men. The prostates of 22% (50-59 year olds), 37% (60-79 years old) and more than half (53%) of people over 80 years of age are likely to contain cancerous cells. Men younger than 40 years old are less likely to develop the disease.

It ranks third globally in cancer incidence and sixth among men in cancer mortality. There are significant geographic and ethnic differences in the rates and deaths of clinical prostate cancer. North America and the northern European countries are at highest risk. Japan and other Asian countries are lower and middle in Western Africa and Central America. These differences may be partly explained by differences in screening and risk factors for prostate cancer.