Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor arising from cells of the epithelial tissue of the glandular structures of the organ. The causes of prostate cancer, like any other oncological problem, are still unknown. Scientists mention only the so-called risk factors: they may provoke prostate cancer but not in 100% of cases.
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a gland, a small organ the size and shape of which resembles a chestnut, consisting of glandular and muscle tissue, located directly under the bladder. The urethra passes through the center of the prostate, from the bladder. One of the main functions of the prostate is the production of prostatic juice, which contributes to the viability of the seed. Seed and prostatic juice form sperm and are excreted through the urethra during orgasm. Thus, the prostate is an important organ in the reproductive system of men.
The size of the prostate depends on the structure of the man’s body. By the age of 20, the prostate reaches its natural size and stops growing. After 40 years, the prostate gland begins to grow again. Prostate growth is a natural process. Over time, growing prostate tissue can form prostate hyperplasia (BPH). Benign prostatic hyperplasia (a synonym for prostate adenoma) can cause a man the inconvenience of urinating. The normal size of the prostate (in which the average man does not have symptoms of prostate adenoma) is 3 × 3 × 5 cm approximately. The weight of an adult male prostate is 20 grams.
Changing the structure of prostate cells often leads to prostate cancer. There is an opinion that every man will sooner or later get prostate cancer but not everyone will know about it. However, there was found no direct relationship between the presence of prostate adenoma and the development of adenoma into prostate cancer.
What causes prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer develops as a result of the influence of some factors, although the real reasons for its development are not fully understood. The following factors can cause the formation of a cancerous tumor:
- Age features. As the body ages, hormonal changes occur in it. In this case, prostate oncology directly depends on the level of testosterone in the body of a man;
- Hereditary predisposition. The risk of developing cancer exists even when a distant relative had such a pathology. Usually, a disease develops in middle age due to a genetic predisposition. According to statistics, African Americans have the highest risk of developing pathology;
- Improper lifestyle, addictions, drug use. Substances that are found in alcohol, tobacco and drugs have a mutagenic effect on the body. If there is a benign neoplasm in the prostate, then these substances can provoke its transformation into a malignant one;
- Improper nutrition, consumption of large amounts of animal fats and meat. Fatty foods contribute to malabsorption of vitamin A, which protects the body from the formation of cancer cells;
- The negative impact of the external environment: radiation, ultraviolet;
- Some viruses can cause genetic changes in cells;
- Work in harmful conditions.
All of the above possible causes of prostate cancer in a certain way affect the formation of the disease. Cancer usually develops as a result of the influence of several factors. The risk group includes men who:
- consume a lot of fatty meat;
- lead a sedentary lifestyle;
- eat foods high in cadmium;
- having an STD or hormonal disorder.
Young and old men should remember the first signs of prostate cancer:
- Burning, which the patient experiences during urination;
- Sensation of incomplete emptying of the bladder after going to the toilet;
- New urge to urinate about 30-60 minutes after the bladder is empty;
- Reduced pressure force of the jet and its interruption during urination;
- A significant reduction in the time between going to the toilet, which is usually observed at night.
Prostate cancer negatively affects the intimate life of a man. Therefore, the list of early symptoms of pathology is supplemented by such signs:
- Partial or complete impotence;
- Weakened erection;
- A decrease in the volume of semen that appears during orgasm.
These changes are not normal. They indicate a prostate disease that requires attention. A man is not able to determine the malignancy of a tumor omn his own. Cancer is not always detected with this clinical picture.
There are the following types of prostate cancer:
- Undifferentiated cancer, which is characterized by a huge number of cells of different sizes and structures that actively divide;
- Low-grade cancer. This form of pathology includes adenocarcinoma, in which the structure of cells of a specific shape changes;
- Differentiated cancer. This form of disease is also divided into several subspecies: glandular cancer, squamous and tubular, as well as alveolar cancer.
Usually, prostate cancer does not develop immediately, it is preceded by a precancerous condition.
Thanks to this, a person has the opportunity to timely identify a developing pathology and undergo therapy. You can suspect a disease in the presence of the following diseases and conditions:
- Atypical hyperplasia can develop into cancer under the influence of adverse factors;
- Intraepithelial neoplasia precedes adenocarcinoma.
Typically, prostate carcinoma is diagnosed in the final stages. But with periodic examination of the prostate, it is possible to identify the disease at the initial stage of development, which gives good forecasts for the future.
The doctor prescribes the following activities:
- Blood test for PSA tumor marker. A high level indicates the presence of oncology;
- A rectal examination of the prostate gland reveals a neoplasm on the prostate;
- Transrectal ultrasound is performed with the introduction of a special device into the rectum;
- Ultrasound of the peritoneal organs;
- MRI and CT;
- Radioisotope research;
- Gland biopsy with further study of biological material.
Stages of prostate cancer
There are several stages of the disease. Each of them has its own tumor size, its distribution throughout the body, and characteristics:
- Stage I is asymptomatic, metastases are not observed in the body, cancer cells are localized only in the prostate;
- Stage II – it is possible to probe the neoplasm, as it increases in size. At this point, special blood tests may show the presence of cancer cells;
- Stage III is caused by the spread of metastases in the membrane that covers the gland. Cancer cells infect the seminal vesicles and organs that are nearby;
- Stage IV – metastases can spread to all organs, tissues and lymph nodes.
Prostate carcinoma responds to therapy at the initial stages of its development, but the difficulty is that it is difficult to identify the disease during this period.
Prostate cancer: metastases
Metastasis of prostate cancer is the process of the spread of cancer cells outside the tumor. Cells move through the blood and lymph vessels, so metastases can be quite far from the focus of the disease.
First, tumor cells grow into nearby tissues, for example, seminal vesicles. Then the bladder and rectum are affected. As soon as the blood vessels from the tumor grow into the vessels of the body, the movement of cancer cells throughout the body begins. These cells are retained in the lymph nodes, where metastases also occur. At the same time, the lymph nodes increase in size and become painful.
With prostate cancer, metastases usually spread to the bone. Most often, the spine is affected, a little less often – the sternum, pelvic bones, ribs and femurs. Bone damage indicates an unfavorable prognosis of survival. There is a pain in the back, chest, swelling of the legs and so on.
Lung metastases in prostate cancer are less common, and liver damage may also occur. In this case, a man observes the following symptoms:
- chest pain;
- hemoptysis – streaks of blood in the sputum.
When metastases of prostate cancer spread to the liver, patients complain of the following symptoms:
- stomach ache;
- a feeling of fullness in the right half of the abdomen or on the right under the ribs;
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
In most cases, prostate cancer progresses very slowly, so a person can live a long life and die from a completely different disease, however, identifying a tumor in the early (localized) stages requires an immediate reaction in the form of a radical treatment.
Complications of prostate cancer appear both as a result of pathological processes, and as a result of treatment. The most common complications include:
- macrohematuria – a large amount of blood in the urine;
- renal failure resulting from acute urinary retention;
- acute abdominal pain due to urinary retention;
- exhaustion of the body and signs of general intoxication – weakness, nausea, stool disorders, fever;
- violation of the work of internal organs affected by metastases (liver, kidneys, lungs).
Surgery, radiation, hormonal and chemotherapy can lead to various complications, including bleeding, intoxication, hair loss and internal organs dysfunctions.
Therapy of prostate cancer requires a complex approach. Depending on the type and stage of the disease, the age category of the man, the treatment regimen consists of one or more methods:
- Observation. Inaction is justified in the non-aggressive form of the tumor when the patient is in advanced age. Prostate carcinoma develops rather slowly, and the shock course of treatment leads to negative dynamics in older men. The oncologist does not prescribe the treatment but monitors the patient’s health;
- Surgery. Depending on the stage and type of the tumor, radical prostatectomy (perineal, laparoscopic, with access above the pubic bone) and transurethral resection are used. The task of conducting radical prostatectomy is to completely rid the patient of the tumor by removing the prostate gland and surrounding tissues. Transurethral resection aims to improve the quality of life. Surgical intervention is the best way to fight prostate cancer: the operation will completely remove the tumor or eliminate its consequences if neoplasia has not penetrated the borders of the prostate gland;
- Radiation therapy. This is a non-invasive treatment method. Its task is to weaken and destroy cancer cells limited by the tumor. The course of procedures includes irradiation through external sources or by placing radioactive capsules inside the prostate;
- Hormone therapy (Casodex). By suppressing the production of androgens by the testes, the development and regression of the neoplasm are stopped. Direct indications: metastases, high risk of relapse, existing contraindications for surgical intervention and radiation. Hormone therapy is effective in the late stages of cancer;
- Chemotherapy (Cytoxan). Oncologists opt for chemotherapy when the development of the disease reaches critical levels, and other types of treatment are powerless. During procedures, aggressive drugs are introduced to the patient, which gradually weaken and destroy cancer cells. Zofran is used to prevent nausea and vomiting that may be caused by cancer chemotherapy.
According to medical statistics, more than 80% of patients successfully overcome the disease. Often, obvious symptoms of the disease appear in the late stages and the chances of a quick cure are rapidly falling.
The main favorable factor is the timely diagnosis, as well as the use of advanced treatment methods.
You can reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer as follows:
- Regular examinations. When a man reaches 45 years of age, it is advisable to start checking for PSA levels every year – this analysis will help determine cancer (if it occurs at all) at an early stage when the disease is easier to treat. If you are at risk for developing the disease, you should undergo a proctologist examination and be checked for PSA every year;
- Sport and active lifestyle. Regular exercise can improve your health, help keep your weight normal and improve your mood. There is evidence that men who do not engage in sports have a higher PSA level. It is advisable to do exercises 3-4 times a week;
- Weight control. If the current weight of the patient falls within the normal range, it is advisable to maintain it in this state. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help with this. If it exceeds the norm, you should slightly increase the number of exercises and slightly reduce the diet. Consultation with a specialist nutritionist can help;
- Proper nutrition. It is recommended to avoid foods high in fat; instead, you should eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain bread. Do not get involved in dietary supplements – not a single clinical study has shown that they can prevent cancer. Instead, you should choose foods rich in vitamins and minerals. According to some reports, the use of green tea can have a preventive effect; however, a large-scale clinical study of the anticancer properties of green tea has not yet been conducted.