Prostate cancer is a group of cancerous cells (a malignant tumor) that begins most often in the outer part of the prostate. It is the second most common type of cancer in men in the United States. Skin cancer is the most common. Of all the men who are diagnosed with cancer each year, more than one-fourth have prostate cancer.
The prostate is a gland in a man's reproductive system. It makes and stores seminal fluid, a milky fluid that nourishes sperm. This fluid is released to form part of semen.
The prostate is about the size of a walnut. It is located below the urinary bladder and in front of the rectum. It surrounds the upper part of the urethra, the tube that empties urine from the bladder. If the prostate grows too large, the flow of urine can be slowed or stopped.
To work properly, the prostate needs male hormones (androgens). Male hormones are responsible for male sex characteristics. The main male hormone is testosterone, which is made mainly by the testicles. Some male hormones are produced in small amounts by the adrenal glands.
early symptoms - prostate cancer
Early symptoms of prostate cancer are often difficult to trace, as prostate cancer does not cause unique symptoms. But prostate cancer can cause any of these problems:
- A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
- Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
- Inability to urinate
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Painful or burning urination
- Difficulty in having an erection
- Painful ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen
- Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.
Any of the above listed "prostate cancer symptoms" may be caused by cancer or by other, less serious health problems, such as BPH or an infection. A man who has "prostate cancer symptoms" like these should see his doctor or a urologist (a doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the genitourinary system).
understanding the cancer process
Cancer is a group of many related diseases. These diseases begin in cells, the body's basic unit of life. Cells have many important functions throughout the body.
Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells in an orderly way. They perform their functions for a while, and then they die. This process helps keep the body healthy.
Sometimes, however, cells do not die. Instead, they keep dividing and creating new cells that the body does not need. They form a mass of tissue, called a growth or tumor.
tumors can be benign or malignant:
- Benign tumors are not cancer. They can usually be removed, and in most cases, they do not come back. Cells from benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body. Most important, benign tumors of the prostate are not a threat to life. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the abnormal growth of benign prostate cells. In BPH, the prostate grows larger and presses against the urethra and bladder, interfering with the normal flow of urine. More than half of the men in the United States between the ages of 60 and 70 and as many as 90 percent between the ages of 70 and 90 have symptoms of BPH. For some men, the symptoms may be severe enough to require treatment.
- Malignant tumors are cancer. Cells in these tumors are abnormal. They divide without control or order, and they do not die. They can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Also, cancer cells can break away from a malignant tumor and enter the bloodstream and lymphatic system. This is how cancer spreads from the original (primary) cancer site to form new (secondary) tumors in other organs. The spread of cancer is called metastasis.
When prostate cancer spreads (metastasizes) outside the prostate, cancer cells are often found in nearby lymph nodes. If the cancer has reached these nodes, it means that cancer cells may have spread to other parts of the body -- other lymph nodes and other organs, such as the bones, bladder, or rectum. When cancer spreads from its original location to another part of the body, the new tumor has the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the primary tumor. For example, if prostate cancer spreads to the bones, the cancer cells in the new tumor are prostate cancer cells. The disease is metastatic prostate cancer; it is not bone cancer.
Posted by Staff at May 21, 2005 1:31 AMblog comments powered by Disqus