Advanced Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer

One in seven men have the chances of developing prostate cancer at some point during their lives. Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer cells and can spread to other areas of the body. Obviously, prostate cancer means that cancer cells form in the tissues of the prostate. Prostate cancer tends to grow slowly compared with most other cells. Cell changes may begin 10, 20 or sometimes even up to 30 years before a tumor gets big enough to cause signs. Eventually, cancer cells may spread (metastatize). By the time the signs appear, cancer may already be advanced. By the age of 50, very few men have signs of prostate cancer, yet some precancerous or cancerous cells may be present.

Only men have a prostate gland. It’s about the shape and size of a walnut. It sits underneath your bladder and surrounds your urethra. It produces a fluid that makes part of the semen. Depending on the size and location a tumor may press on or constrict the urethra, inhibiting the flow of urine. The urethra goes through the prostate. The prostate gland is also involved in urine control (continence) with the use of prostate muscle fibers.  Prostate cancer often produces no signs in its early stages. Many men diagnosed have shown no signs at all. However, as the cancer progresses, it may begin to show the symptoms.

Considerations in advanced prostate cancer: While it is true that prostate cancer is largely curable when diagnosed and treated early, patients with advanced prostate cancer have a less favorable prognosis. Advanced prostate cancer is defined as cancer that has spread beyond the original tumor. The most recent statistics estimate that 3 out of 10 men are alive after diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer. Male hormones such as testosterone cause prostate cancer to grow and survive. Early treatments for prostate cancer attempt to lower levels of testosterone in the body. This is known as the hormone therapy. However, prostate cancer tumor cells may eventually begin to grow again even though the levels of testosterone in the body are low. At this point, the cancer is considered to be advanced.

Researchers are studying why this occurs to gain a better understanding of how to develop treatments for prostate cancer. Recent basic science and medical evidence suggest that one possible reason is that they become extremely sensitive to the low levels of testosterone that surround them. In this way, tumors can grow even though there are extremely low levels of testosterone in the blood stream. Additionally, studies done in both animals and humans show that the tumor may begin to produce its own supply of testosterone. This means that the tumor is capable of fuming its own growth. In other words, in advance prostate cancer, there is evidence to suggest that the tumor may be providing its own testosterone so that they can grow without depending on other sources of testosterone production.

How to identify the signs of prostate cancer?

  • Urinary problems: urinary problem is the most common sign of prostate cancer. When the prostate presses against the urethra, one can have trouble passing urine. Needing to urinate urgently and needing to urinate more often could be a sign that the cancer has spread to the areas around the prostate, urethra and the bladder. Leakage of urine and the urgency to urinate specially at night could mean that the bladder muscles have become weak due to the spread of the disease.  Acute urine retention is also another phenomenon that could be a manifestation of cancer. A blockage in the urine flow because of an overgrown cancerous tumor makes it difficult to start urinating. Although this could also be indicative of non-cancerous diseases of the prostate like: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) also known as an enlarged prostate as well as Prostatitis (inflammed prostate gland usually due to an infection).
  • Pain and discomfort when sitting: this is the second most common sign of a prostate cancer. Pain in the area between the penis and the rectum while sitting is also often associated with inflammation of the prostate but it could be due to the cancerous tumor in the prostate. It may feel like one is sitting on a golf ball or other hard object.  Men can also experience pain in the hips, lower back, pelvis, or upper thighs. If the cancer presses on a nerve, one might feel shooting, stabbing, burning, tingling or numbness.
  • Problems in the kidney: prostate cancer may block the tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder. This can increase the concentration of waste products in the blood leading ultimately to kidney failure.
  • Sexual dysfunction: the prostate gland plays a key role in the male reproductive system; therefore prostate cancer can cause sexual dysfunction. Men may have problems getting or maintaining an erection, or experience painful ejaculation.

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