Cancer of the prostate is the most common type of cancer among American men and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among them. It's estimated that one out of every 10 American men will develop prostate cancer before age 85.
The risk of developing prostate cancer greatly increases with age. It rarely occurs in men younger than 50. The average age is 72. Black American men are at greater risk than white American men, but the reason for this is not known. The cause of prosta te cancer is also unknown.
The Function Of The Prostate
The prostate is a male gland normally about the size of a chestnut. It secretes a milky fluid that is part of the semen needed for ejaculation.
The prostate gland lies at the base of the penis, just below the urinary bladder and in front of the rectum. It surrounds the first inch of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder. Its location allows a physician to feel through the r ectum that part of the gland where most tumors occur.
What Is Cancer?
Cancer is really a number of diseases caused by the abnormal growth of cells. Normally, the cells that make up the body divide and reproduce in an orderly manner, so that we can grow, replace worn-out tissue, and repair any injuries. Sometimes, however, c ells get out of control. They divide too much and form masses known as tumors. Some tumors may interfere with body functions and require surgical removal, but they do not spread to other parts of the body. These are known as benign tumors. Malignant--or c ancerous--tumors not only invade or destroy normal tissue, but, by a process known as metastasis, cells break away from the original tumor and migrate to other parts of the body. There they may form more malignant tumors.
The rates of growth and spread of prostate cancer vary widely. Some tumors grow rapidly. Others grow so slowly they do not even produce symptoms during a man's lifetime.
Prostate Cancer Risk Factors
The cause of prostate cancer remains unknown. Several factors associated with a higher rate of prostate cancer, however, have been identified. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases as a man ages. Almost all patients with prostate cancer are mor e than 50 years old and 80% are over age 65. For reasons not known currently, black Americans have the highest incidence rate in the world. A family history of prostate cancer in a brother or father also doubles ones chances of getting prostate cancer. </ P>
There is no convincing evidence to date that diet and/or nutrition play a role in developing prostate cancer.
Signs And Symptoms
In the very early stages of prostate cancer, there usually are no symptoms. When symptoms do develop, they vary according to the size and location of the tumor, and are often the same as those for benign prostate conditions. In fact, it is more likely tha t any of these symptoms would indicate prostate enlargement, known as benign prostatic hypertrophy, infection, or other conditions rather than cancer. Still, any symptom should be checked by a physician. Only a physician conducting the proper tests can de termine for sure whether the condition is cancerous or benign. Symptoms of prostate problems include:
- Weak or interrupted urine flow
- Inability to urinate
- Difficulty in starting or stopping urination
- Need to urinate frequently, especially at night
- Blood in the urine
- Painful or burning urination
- Continuing pain in lower back, pelvis, or upper thighs
Every man over the age of 40 should have a digital rectal examination as part of his regular annual physical checkup. The physician inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to palpate (feel any irregular or abnormally firm area that may indicate a tumor is present). Almost all prostate cancers begin in that part of the prostate gland that can be palpated by rectal examination. This exam also helps detect early rectal cancers.
In addition, the American Cancer Society recommends that men 50 and over have an annual prostatespecific antigen blood test (PSA). If there is a family history (father or brother), screening should begin at age 40. If either digital rectal examination or the prostate-specific blood test is abnormal, further evaluation should be considered.
Men over the age of 40 should also stay alert to any of the urinary problems and painful conditions that could be symptoms of prostate cancer. If any of these symptoms are noticed, a physician should be consulted immediately.
Diagnosis Of Prostate Cancer
Removal of a small tissue sample and its examination under a microscope, a procedure known as a biopsy, is the ONLY way to determine conclusively if a growth is cancerous. For prostate cancer, tissue samples are usually obtained by inserting an ultrasound probe into the rectum to visualize the prostate on a TV monitor. A thin needle is placed through the probe into the prostate. This procedure is known as needle biopsy. No anesthesia is needed for a needle biopsy of the prostate. It is an outpatient proce dure, usually done in the doctor's office.
The Stages Of Disease
If prostate cancer is found, your doctors will need more information about the extent of the cancer. That is, has the cancer spread farther than the prostate? The treatment of prostate cancer and the expected outcome depend greatly on the stage, or extent, of disease. Although there are several staging systems, newly diagnosed cases can generally be considered to be in one of these stages:
Very Early: Stage A or Stage I
In this stage the cancer is confined to the prostate gland and cannot be felt during a rectal examination. Rather, a case such as this is detected in a patient initially having surgery for what was thought to be benign prostate disease, but whose biopsy reveals cancer. Also, those patients with a normal prostate exam but who are found to have cancer on an ultrasound guided biopsy. In many cases patients with very early cancers receive no additional treatment at that time, but are advised to return for follow-up exams at regular intervals.
Localized: Stage B or Stage II
These cancers are still confined to the prostate gland, but are large enough to be palpated during a rectal examination.
Regionalized: Stage C or Stage III
These tumors have spread into the tissues immediately surrounding the prostate gland.
Advanced: Stage D or Stage IV
In this stage, tumors have spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis or beyond, or to other body structures, usually the bones.
To conclude, further information is available once the presence and nature of the prostate cancer and its extent can be determined.
Hopefully this brief outline will answer some of your questions and concerns. If you have more questions, please ask us. You can also call the American Cancer Society Hotline at 1-800-4-CANCER.
New Procedure For Prostate Cancer
Cryosurgery of the Prostate
Cryosurgery of the prostate gland, also known as cryosurgical ablation of the prostate (CSAP), destroys prostate tissue by applying extremely cold temperatures in order to destroy the size of the prostate gland cancerous & normal prostate tissue.
Targeted cryoablation of the prostate
Targeted cryoablation of the prostate is a minimally invasive procedure in which 6 to 8 cryoprobes are inserted through a small incision and guided by ultrasound into the prostate. A warming catheter is used to protect the urethra while the probes simultaneously freeze the cancerous tissue at temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius.
Unlike radical prostatectomy or radiation therapy, the targeted cryosurgery procedure can be repeated if any cancer cells are detected after initial treatment. Clinical data indicates that most patients receiving targeted cryosurgery remain disease free after five years.
- Lower morbidity
- Decreased incidence of incontinence
- Fast recovery time
- Minimally invasive
- Reduced need for blood transfusions
- Regional or general anesthesia
Prostate cancer is a major health concern among men age 50 and older. Since 1980, the incidence of prostate cancer has risen steadily to become the second most common cause of cancer related deaths among men, exceeded only by lung cancer.
60% of all prostate cancers are detected while they are still localized and 82% of patients treated with targeted cryosurgery showed no signs of cancer at five years.
Currently Dr. Colombo and Dr. Roegner are the only two physicians that are performing this procedure. For more information contact our office.
For additional information, please visit www.prostate.com