Cancer of the prostate is caused by cells in the prostate dividing without control. It may cause no symptoms in its early stages. But as it advances, it can cause urinary problems. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in men, but if caught early, the 5-year survival rate is very good.3,6,7,11
What are the Causes?1,2,7
Doctors are unsure of the exact causes of prostate cancer. They do know that if someone in the family has had the disease, it is more likely to be diagnosed. Ethnicity can play a role. African Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than other populations. And the older you get, the higher your risk. Lifestyle choices such as diet, smoking and exercise may also have an impact.
Research continues to better understand what causes the disease. But most doctors agree, if you do things that are heart healthy, you may also keep your prostate healthy. Eating right, exercising, watching your weight and not smoking can improve your health and help you avoid this disease.1,7,8
How may prostate cancer impact me?1,7,11
In its early stages, prostate cancer often causes no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include any of the following:
How does my doctor screen for prostate cancer?
In the US, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death. It is estimated that approximately 230,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2014 and there will be 29,000 people who will lose their life. For some types of cancer, finding and treating the disease early may provide a better chance of survival and recovery. But there are risks to screening, so it’s important to talk about risks and benefits with your physician.7,8,11
What are my treatment options?
The first step is to diagnose. The key screening tools are a digital rectal exam (DRE) where your doctor will look to see if you have an enlarged prostate and a blood test called a PSA (Prostate specific Antigen). He may order additional tests. If these are positive, you may need a biopsy where they take some tissue from your prostate.1,3,7,11
Once diagnosed, doctors use a range of treatments to help with prostate cancer. If you are suffering from this disease, discuss these options with your doctor and ask if there are other potential alternatives
Some prostate cancers are very slow growing, so, like with BPH, your doctor may prescribe active surveillance (watchful waiting) as the best option.7,11
Your doctor may recommend taking hormones to lower your levels of testosterone (male hormone). By doing this, you may be able to slow the growth of cancer cells over time. These hormones may also be used in combination with Brachytherapy (radiation therapy) to shrink the prostate and the tumor.1,11
Brachytherapy is another prostate cancer treatment. It involves implanting radioactive “seeds” around your prostate gland. These seeds stay permanently and deliver a dose of radiation directly to the cancer cells slowly over time.1,7 Side effects may include urinary problems, bowel problems, erectile dysfunction or impotence (difficulty in getting or keeping an erection of the penis), and fatigue (or tiredness).1,7,11
External radiation is another treatment for prostate cancer. It uses high-energy X-rays directed from outside the body at the prostate gland. Side effects may include problems with urination and impotence, as well as injury to the bowel.1,7
With some prostate cancers, surgery may be required to remove the prostate and lymph nodes affected with the disease. The two most common side effects of this surgery are loss of bladder control (incontinence) and the inability to maintain an erection (impotence).1,7,11
Where can I find more information?
The following organizations publish resources for men with questions about prostate cancer:
Please note that this information provided by BARD Medical is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a medical professional. Information is as of 12/2014. Please check references for updated information.