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What are the Early Signs of Prostate Cancer by Joshua Pfeffer

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Prostate cancer, by definition, is a type of cancer that forms in the tissues of the prostate. It is also the second most common type of cancer among men in the United States. In 2013 alone, nearly a quarter million new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed, and close to 30,000 men lost their lives to its devastating effects.

To understand the basics of prostate cancer, you must first understand the basics of the name: prostate and cancer. The prostate is a male reproductive gland that surrounds the urethra and is located just inferior to the bladder, and just anterior to the rectum. The largest role the prostate fills is producing what is called seminal fluid, which is the liquid that carries sperm out of the male body as part of the semen.  Cancer is a disease in which cells divide without any regulation within the tissues of the body. These cells can then break free from their original growth site and travel to other areas of the body where they can then grow and cause damage to the surrounding tissue. The tissue in which the cancer grows is generally how the specific type of cancer is named. For instance, cancerous cells that divide and grow within the tissue of the breast are called breast cancer. In our case, cancerous cells that divide and grow within the tissue of the prostate gland are given the name prostate cancer. Now that we know what prostate cancer is, it’s important to understand what might put a man at risk for developing prostate cancer and who may be more at risk.

Studies have shown that race may play a role in the likelihood of developing prostate cancer, as well as the severity of the cancer once developed. In multiple studies, African American males are more likely than Caucasian males, or European American males to develop the disease, and are also more likely to succumb to the effects of the disease. Studies are still in place to determine exactly what the racial difference may be. In the realm of generalized risk factors, age seems to stand out at the top of the list. Men over 50 are far more likely to develop prostate cancer than men under 50, and the risk continues to rise as age increases. Other studies have shown that hormone imbalances, excessive calcium, vitamin E, and folic acid may also be linked to an increased risk for prostate cancer.

Proper diagnoses of prostate cancer are important in being able to treat the disease as early on as possible. Early signs of prostate problems, including cancer, may involve problems urinating, blood in the urine, blood in the semen, or pelvic discomfort. It is advised that a doctor be consulted if any of these symptoms arise, especially in men over 50, or who may be at high risk of the disease. Diagnosis of prostate cancer is generally done via a digital examination of the rectum, meaning a physical exam by the doctor of the affected area. Other exams may include blood tests, ultrasounds, bone scans, MRIs, or CT scans as ordered by the physician, all of which may lend expertise towards diagnosing the disease, as well as how advanced the cancerous growth may be. As unsettling as a prostate cancer diagnosis may be, there is hope in today’s advanced methods of treatment.

After a positive diagnosis of prostate cancer, some physicians may choose to simply watch cancer to determine whether or not it is growing and going to become a bigger issue, something they call active surveillance. Only after the severity of the case has been determined will more invasive treatments ensue. The treatments often include surgery to remove the afflicted tissue in the prostate. Other methods of treatment involve hormone therapy, which attempts to balance the hormones in the male body to avoid male hormones from coming into contact with the cancerous cells. It has been shown that male hormones will cause the cancerous cells to grow. Radiation and chemotherapy are used for prostate cancer as well, both of which have pros and cons that would need to be discussed with your physician before treatment is considered.

Even after considering the severity of prostate cancer among males in the United States, it’s safe to say that there is hope.  Multiple specialties exist in the medical field that are dedicated solely to the treatment and eradication of prostate cancer. Through the ongoing research of these specialists, the education of males on the risk factors and effects of the disease, and the optimism of affected men nationwide, prostate cancer is destined to see a decrease in afflictions over the next several years.  This article is meant to be used solely as a brief reference for prostate cancer information. Please visit the articles below, or speak with a physician for more details on the disease.



“MayoClinic Prostate Cancer.” Diagnosis at Mayo Clinic. Web. 19 Jan. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prostate-cancer/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20029597>.

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“MayoClinic Prostate Cancer.” Symptoms. Web. 19 Jan. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prostate-cancer/basics/symptoms/con-20029597>.

“National Cancer Institute.” Prostate Cancer Prevention. Web. 19 Jan. 2014. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/prevention/prostate/Patient/page3>.

“National Cancer Institute.” What Is Cancer? Cancer.gov. Web. 18 Jan. 2014. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/cancerlibrary/what-is-cancer>.

“National Cancer Institute.” What You Need To Know About Prostate Cancer. Web. 19 Jan. 2014. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/prostate/page6>.


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