Conditions & Treatments

Prostate Cancer

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OVERVIEW

Prostate cancer emerges within the prostate, a compact gland resembling a walnut. Situated beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum in males and individuals assigned male at birth (AMAB), this small gland produces a fluid that combines with semen, maintaining sperm vitality for reproduction and pregnancy.

Prostate cancer is a grave ailment. Thankfully, the majority of individuals with this cancer receive their diagnosis prior to its progression beyond the confines of the prostate gland. Treatment during this phase frequently leads to the eradication of the cancer.

At the University of Kansas Department of Urology, our expert team is dedicated to delivering top-tier care and utilizing cutting-edge treatments for our patients. We collaborate closely with every individual to create a customized treatment strategy that considers their specific requirements and objectives.

Types of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer can be classified into different types based on how the cancer cells look under a microscope. The two main types are:

  • Adenocarcinoma: This is the most common type of prostate cancer. It originates in the cells of the prostate gland that produce seminal fluid.
  • Rare Types: These include small cell carcinoma, sarcomas, and transitional cell carcinomas, but these are much less common than adenocarcinoma.

SYMPTOMS & CAUSES

Causes & Risk Factors

While the exact cause of prostate cancer is not fully understood, there are several risk factors that are associated with an increased likelihood of developing the disease. These include:

  • Age: The risk of prostate cancer increases with age, particularly after the age of 50.
  • Family History: If a close family member has had prostate cancer, the risk increases.
  • Ethnicity: African-American men have a higher risk compared to men of other ethnicities.
  • Diet: A diet high in red meat and dairy products, and low in fruits and vegetables, may increase the risk.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese is linked to an increased risk.

Symptoms

In its early stages, prostate cancer might not show any symptoms. As the disease progresses, symptoms can include:

  • Urinary Changes: Frequent urination, weak or interrupted urine flow, pain or burning during urination.
  • Blood in Urine or Semen: This could be a sign of advanced disease.
  • Erectile Dysfunction: Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection.
  • Pain: Discomfort in the pelvic area, lower back, hips, or thighs.

DIAGNOSIS & SCREENING

Diagnosis

Early detection is key to successful treatment. Common methods of diagnosis include:

  • Digital Rectal Examination (DRE): A doctor checks the prostate gland by inserting a gloved finger into the rectum to feel for any abnormalities.
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test: A blood test that measures the levels of PSA, a protein produced by the prostate. Elevated levels might indicate a problem.
  • Prostate Biopsy: A tissue sample is taken from the prostate gland and examined under a microscope to determine if cancer is present.

Procedures & Tests

In addition to the diagnostic methods mentioned earlier, there are other tests and procedures used to further evaluate and manage prostate cancer:

  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): This imaging technique provides detailed images of the prostate and surrounding tissues, helping doctors assess the extent of the cancer.
  • Bone Scan: Used to determine if the cancer has spread to the bones.
  • Gleason Score: A system that grades the aggressiveness of prostate cancer based on the appearance of cancer cells under a microscope.
  • Genomic Testing: This involves analyzing the genetic makeup of the cancer cells to guide treatment decisions.

TREATMENTS

Treatment options depend on the stage and aggressiveness of the cancer. They can include:

  • Active Surveillance: Monitoring the cancer’s progression without immediate treatment.
  • Surgery: Surgical removal of the prostate gland (prostatectomy).
  • Radiation Therapy: Using high-energy rays to kill cancer cells.
  • Hormone Therapy: Lowering levels of male hormones to slow cancer growth.
  • Chemotherapy: Medications that kill rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy: Boosting the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

Additional Treatment Options for Advanced Prostate Cancer

In cases where prostate cancer has advanced or spread beyond the prostate gland, additional treatment options might be considered:

  • Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT): Also known as hormone therapy, it aims to lower levels of male hormones that fuel cancer growth.
  • Chemotherapy: Used for more advanced cases to target cancer cells throughout the body.
  • Targeted Therapy: Drugs that specifically target certain molecules involved in cancer growth.
  • Immunotherapy: Boosting the immune system’s ability to recognize and attack cancer cells.
  • Radiopharmaceuticals: Radioactive substances that can be used to treat cancer that has spread to the bones.

OUTLOOK & PROGNOSIS

Prevention & Management

While it’s not always possible to prevent prostate cancer, certain lifestyle choices can help reduce the risk:

  • Healthy Diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in red meat and processed foods.
  • Regular Exercise: Engaging in physical activity can lower the risk of many cancers, including prostate cancer.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity is linked to an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol intake may increase the risk.
  • Regular Check-ups: Regular screenings and check-ups with a healthcare provider can aid in early detection and management.

Patient Support and Quality of Life

A prostate cancer diagnosis can be emotionally and physically challenging. It’s important to address the holistic well-being of patients:

  • Support Groups: Joining support groups can provide emotional and practical support from others going through similar experiences.
  • Counseling: Professional counseling can help patients and their families cope with the emotional impact of the diagnosis and treatment.
  • Physical Activity: Engaging in regular exercise can improve physical and emotional well-being.
  • Dietary Changes: Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help manage side effects of treatment and improve overall health.
  • Sexual Health: Patients experiencing sexual dysfunction can consult healthcare providers for guidance and solutions.

CONCLUSION

Prostate cancer is a complex disease that requires careful diagnosis, individualized treatment, and comprehensive management. Early detection, regular screenings, and a healthy lifestyle play a crucial role in reducing the risk and improving outcomes.

Consulting with a knowledgeable medical professional is essential to making informed decisions about prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options tailored to your specific situation. Ongoing research continues to refine our understanding of prostate cancer and enhance the tools available for its management.

For more information on Prostate Cancer