PROSTATE CANCER: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments / Simply explained
In this Youtube video and health and wellness blog post, you find:
- What is the prostate?
- The different cells of the prostate and their roles
- The symptoms of prostate cancer
- Risk factors for prostate cancer
- The causes of prostate cancer
- Different treatments for prostate cancer
- Advice and recommendations
This is a very interesting subject to know and to remember, especially if you are a man.
To begin with, let me remind you that the prostate is a small gland that is exclusively part of the male genitalia.
Glands are simply organs whose function is to release substances such as hormones or different liquids.
The prostate is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum (end of the large intestine). The bladder is the place where the urine produced by the kidneys arrives to be eliminated by the body.
The prostate is composed of 2 types of cells, the muscle cells which have a mechanical role and the glandular cells which intervene in the production, the release and the storage of various liquids called seminal liquid (liquid which makes it possible to constitute the sperm) and the prostatic liquid, this one makes it possible to protect the spermatozoids which are in the sperm, it also prevents the coagulation of the sperm (appearance of a solid mass within this liquid)
Prostate cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer death in men.
It is caused by a significant multiplication of abnormal and immortal cells called cancer cells within the prostate.
Cancer cells can also migrate through the bloodstream and affect other organs; in this case, it is called metastasis. This happens when the cancer is at an advanced stage (has been present for a long time).
Prostate cancer is usually detected between the ages of 65 and 70.
You should know that this cancer evolves very slowly, which is a real chance, because the treatments that are more and more effective can be implemented very quickly and eradicate the disease.
It is interesting to know that there are different types of prostate cancer depending on the areas that are affected within this organ.
The most common type is called adenocarcinoma of the prostate, in which case the cancer affects the cells that are found at the periphery of the prostate and whose function is to release seminal fluid.
It is important to know that the particularity of these cells is that they are under the influence of testosterone, so anything that blocks the action of testosterone in these cells also helps to slow down the growth and multiplication of cancer cells.
The risk factors for prostate cancer are well known: age over 70, family history (predisposed genetic background) and the ethnic origin of the person.
Men from Africa, northern Europe and northern America are more often affected.
Lifestyle is also involved such as smoking and/or alcohol consumption, overweight, obesity, ...
The causes of prostate cancer are not totally known, like many diseases, it is triggered by multiple environmental factors such as lifestyle, ... on genetically predisposed grounds.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that prostate cancer does not cause any particular symptoms at its beginning. Symptoms appear when the stage is quite advanced, hence the importance of screening.
Symptoms of prostate cancer are: a frequent urge to urinate, discomfort and difficulty in urinating, a decrease in the strength of the stream, the presence of blood in the urine or semen, pain in the pelvis, hips and upper thighs, ejaculation problems.
The patient may also experience severe fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea and bone pain in the advanced stage of the disease.
You should know that prostate cancer screening can be done by your general practitioner through an examination called a digital rectal exam. This examination is not painful, but it is essential because it allows the doctor to see if there are any abnormal changes in the prostate gland in the area that he can feel.
The other test to determine the state of the prostate is the blood test for a prostate-specific protein (produced only in the prostate) called PSA.
When the PSA level increases, the doctor should investigate to find the cause of the increase, as it is not necessarily due to the presence of cancer. It may be caused by other prostate problems. It is therefore very important to monitor your levels regularly.
You should also be aware that some treatments for hair loss or benign prostatic hyperplasia, such as finasteride, can cause a decrease in PSA, which can affect the result of the blood test. Therefore, it is imperative that you report all of your treatments before you have a PSA blood test.
Other examinations allow for a true diagnosis, such as biopsy and transrectal ultrasound, the latter being performed by a doctor specializing in this field, namely a urologist.
The biopsy consists of removing a few cells from the prostate in order to visualize them under a microscope. This examination can be done under local anesthesia, it is not painful and does not require hospitalization; sometimes, it is even done without anesthesia.
It is very important to take the antibiotics prescribed by the doctor before the biopsy in order to avoid the risk of infection. If a fever appears after the biopsy, the doctor must be contacted very quickly.
A transrectal ultrasound allows you to visualize the prostate and see if there are any abnormalities.
The treatments for prostate cancer are implemented according to the stage of evolution of the cancer. The main treatment is surgery to remove the prostate gland, called prostatectomy.
Radiation therapy consists of killing the cancerous cells by using ionizing rays. These are specific rays such as X-rays or Gamma rays that are sent at a particular dose; they have the ability to transform atoms into ions (see video on acid-base balance), which destabilizes the cells and causes their deterioration.
Hormonal treatments can stop the growth of cancer cells by blocking their access to testosterone.
Regular and appropriate physical activity is also part of prostate cancer treatment. It helps reduce complications due to treatment and prevents recurrence (reappearance of cancer cells).
Follow-up is essential after treatment has been initiated, PSA levels should be checked regularly and the patient should report any symptoms suggestive of prostate cancer such as intense fatigue, pain when urinating or pain in the back, pelvis, hips, thighs, ....
The prostate can be affected by other disorders such as inflammation called prostatitis or an increase in its volume called prostatic adenoma or benign prostatic hypertrophy, which usually occurs from the age of 50 and affects almost all men after 70 years. The increase in volume of the prostate concerns the central part of this organ and does not evolve into cancer.