Prostate cancer: causes, symptoms and prevention
Despite being an exclusive disease of men, prostate cancer is among the most common cancers in the world With In fact, about 1.2 million new cases are diagnosed each year, making it the fourth most common cancer.
The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland present only in men located in front of the rectum and below the bladder. This organ is responsible for the production of seminal fluid, which is the substance that nourishes and transports sperm.
Prostate cancer is, therefore, exclusive to men and usually develops in old age, with rare cases in those under 40 years of age. Despite this, it is a very common cancer and, fortunately, we have treatments that, if detected early, are very effective.
Most men with prostate cancer located just in this gland have a very high chance of making a good cure after treatment and do not even need treatment.
Thus, in today’s article we will talk about the nature of this cancer , detailing both its causes and symptoms, as well as the best ways to prevent its occurrence, the complications it can lead to and the treatments available.
What is prostate cancer?
A cancer consists of an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in our body, which, due to mutations in their genetic material, lose the ability to regulate their dividing cycles.
This causes them to split more than they should and, therefore, grow more than normal. Over time, a tumor develops in that area, which is a mass of cells that has grown excessively. In case it does not cause damage, we are talking about a benign tumor. If, otherwise, it endangers the health of the person, we are facing a tumor or malignant cancer.
Therefore, prostate cancer is a malignant tumor that develops in prostate cells , a gland present in men that has the function of producing seminal fluid.
Since it is not a vital organ, it is not a cancer as dangerous as lung cancer, for example. However, as in any other type of cancer, there is a risk of it spreading to other parts of the body, a situation that represents a serious health problem.
Being a cancer so common in men and potentially fatal to the person, it is imperative that older men undergo regular medical checkups , since if detected early, the probability that the treatment will be successful is very high.
One of the main problems in preventing prostate cancer is that the causes are not very clear With While in lung cancer it is clear that the main cause is smoking or that many cases of liver cancer are due to suffering from hepatitis, in the case of the prostate it is not known exactly why some men develop it and others do not.
In any case, it is believed that the reason for its occurrence would be a complex interaction between the person’s genetics and the environment, namely the lifestyle followed.
Despite not knowing the causes that lead to its development, what is known is that there is a population at risk: those over 45, African-Americans (it is not well understood why, but statistically they are more susceptible to suffering from this type of cancer ), people with obesity, people with a family history …
For this reason, as the “causes” are not known, the general population and especially those within the at-risk population should undergo periodic medical check-ups.
Another problem about prostate cancer is that it shows no signs of its presence until it is in very advanced stages, at which point the probability that it has spread to other organs is higher.
Therefore, it is important to do check-ups with your doctor to find out his presence before the symptoms appear, as when they do appear, it may already be too late to guarantee the effectiveness of the treatment.
Either way, men – especially those within the vulnerable population – should be alert to the following symptoms and seek medical attention at the slightest suspicion:
- Difficulty urinating
- Dribbling after urination
- Pain when urinating
- Pain in the lower back
- Pain during ejaculation
- Problems with the onset of urination
- Small force in urine flow
- Blood in semen
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Bone pain
Sympt is a very representative symptomatology and, although it may scare the affected person, it does not mean that nothing can be done. In fact, the real problems come in the event that these signs lead to complications that we will see below .
If prostate cancer is not detected early, we can give it time to grow a lot and spread to other organs, a situation that puts a person’s life at risk.
Basically three complications can arise With Two of them, incontinence and erectile dysfunction, although they do not endanger the life of the affected person, they endanger their quality of life. However, one of them is that it metastasizes, and this is really a life threatening situation.
1. Urinary incontinence
The prostate plays a very important role in the urination process, as it is responsible for closing the passage to the bladder so as not to release urine when not touched. When a person suffers from prostate cancer and is allowed time to grow, it is possible for this gland to lose its function and cannot “stop” the progression of urine.
This can lead to urinary incontinence. , a disorder in which the person loses control of urination to a greater or lesser extent. Depending on the involvement of the prostate, this problem can range from losing a few drops to the need to urinate so much that the person does not even have time to go to the toilet.
Although it does not endanger the life of the person, it is a condition that causes shame and, therefore, compromises the quality of life of the person. In addition, although they are typical of advanced stages of cancer, prostate cancer treatments themselves can cause this incontinence.
2. Erectile dysfunction
Another complication to which prostate cancer itself can lead and treatments aimed at curing it is erectile dysfunction. Again, it does not endanger the person’s life, but compromises his quality.
Fortunately, after treatment, affected men usually overcome this disorder and regain the ability to have sex.
This is a really serious complication With If prostate cancer is found exclusively in this gland, although it can lead to the previous two problems, it is still relatively easy to treat.
Now, things change when the cancer spreads to other nearby organs and tissues and even to distant ones. It can metastasize to the bladder or, in severe cases, travel through the blood or lymphatic system and reach bones or other vital organs.
Once this has happened, it is very difficult to control cancer. And, although the patient is still likely to respond to treatment, the chances of recovery are much lower.
Preventing prostate cancer is very difficult as the exact causes are not known. However, as with other cancers, the best strategy for reducing the risk of developing cancer is to lead a healthier life .
Healthy eating and eating a varied diet, regular exercise, maintaining an adequate weight, avoiding alcohol abuse, not smoking, etc., are the best ways to protect yourself against the development of this and cancers. others.
Most cases of prostate cancer are found in routine tests With After a certain age, men are tested to see if they can suffer from this disease. The doctor performs a digital rectal examination to see if it detects any abnormalities in the structure or size of the prostate. In case he sees something strange, he will do more tests.
These consist of blood tests because when there is prostate cancer, specific antigens circulate in the bloodstream at higher than normal levels.
Later, in case you have any doubts or need to confirm it, you will perform more diagnostic techniques: ultrasound, biopsy (extraction of tissue sample from the prostate), MRI, ultrasound technique, computed tomography …
In this way, the doctor can either confirm the presence of the tumor or rule out the possibility that the person is suffering from the disease. The earlier the diagnosis is made, the sooner treatment will begin and the more likely it is to succeed.
If the doctor sees that there is no risk of prostate cancer leading to the above complications, treatment may not be necessary as if there is no risk of its metastasis, it will be more harmful to the person. Than cancer itself. Of course, the patient will always be under supervision.
Most likely, the cancer is found early before it spreads and localizes only to the prostate. In this case, the removal operation will suffice. The problem is that by removing the prostate, the patient risks incontinence and dysfunction. This is why treatment is only performed when there is a real risk to the person’s health.
In case the cancer has metastasized, surgery will not be enough. The patient will need to undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy treatment , medication administration or a combination of several.
However, the most likely occurrence is either that no treatment is required or that surgery is sufficient. This provided that it is detected in time, so we once again emphasize the importance of conducting routine examinations at the doctor after the age of risk has been set.