what is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer found in males worldwide, though due its slow growth and growth region, it is not one of the more severe cancers. Like other cancers, prostate cancer is caused by a mutation of cells which cluster together to form a tumour. In some cases these tumours will stop growing, in which case they’re considered benign. Dangerous tumours are the ones which continue to grow and can infect other organs and tissues. In the prostate, these tumours tend to remain small, and this can make detection difficult. Some patients may not be experiencing any symptoms from the cancer at all. Even so, the cancerous cells in the prostate could travel to other areas of the body and form tumours there, which could have the potential for greater risk. These metastases as they’re called, often take root in the bones and lymph nodes when originating from the prostate.
Causes of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer has some of the same links as other cancer types. Namely smoking, poor diet, and generally poor health are all thought to contribute to prostate cancer. Overproduction of testosterone is also thought to contribute to the growth of prostate cancer. In addition, genetics play a larger role in prostate cancer than it does in some other cancers. Those with a family history of prostate cancer are more likely to develop the cancer themselves. African-Americans are also at a higher genetic risk for developing prostate cancer. Finally, prostate cancer is much more likely to develop as one ages. Most incidences occur in men over 40 years of age, and it’s thought that by age 80, as many as 80% of men may have prostate cancer.
Testing for Prostate Cancer
If prostate cancer is suspected based on the common symptoms, or one simply wished to go through the screening process, there are two main tests used for looking for it. The first is a simple rectal examination. The doctor will gentle feel the prostate gland and look for any growth abnormalities. If he suspects growth, the next test would be the PSA test. This test, the Prostate Specific Antigen test, is a simple blood test that checks the blood for a specific protein, which is developed in the prostate and carried throughout the blood stream. This protein is generally produced at a much higher rate when cancer is present in the prostate than when it isn’t. This test isn’t infallible though, and so high and even mid levels of the protein will often lead to the final test, a prostate biopsy. The biopsy will be able to determine without a doubt whether cancerous cells are present in the prostate gland. It’s highly recommended that men 40 and over get a regular screening for prostate cancer. Because of how prevalent it is in older men, and how simple the screening process is, there’s really no reason not to do so.