Prostate cancer begins in the prostate, a chestnut shaped gland located in the base of a mans bladder just in front of the rectum. The prostate forms part of the male reproductive and urinary system and surrounds the base or neck of the bladder. It has two lobes that surround the urethra. The urethra carries urine from the bladder,through the prostate and then out through the penis. Thesize of the prostate will vary from one man to another and will range from the size of a walnut to that of a small apple. The size of a mans prostate usually increases with age. The prostate itself is covered in a layer of connective tissue called the prostatic capsule.
It is responsible for producing seminal fluid, the liquid that a mans semen is carried in during orgasm. It also plays a part in controlling the flow of urine. The lobes that surround the urethra contain muscle fibres that contract to slow or stop the flow of urine through the urethra.
Prostate cancer will be found in almost 26,000 men thisyear. Twenty six thousand more men will be diagnosedwith prostate cancer next year and another 26,000+ the year after that. In fact, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian men.
While there is no known single cause of prostate cancer, some indicators figure larger than others. What is known is the risk of a man developing prostate cancer increases significantly with age. Few men under the age of 50 have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Most prostatecancers are found in men around the age of 65 and higher. Another factor is whether any blood relatives have developed prostate cancer. Your chances of developing this disease increase markedly if family members have developed it.
In addition, men of African descent are 60% more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasian men while Asian men are least likely to develop it. The reasons for the disparity are not known.
Early detection of the disease is critical. This disease does not have many symptoms in its early stages. Symptoms become more serious and numerous as the cancer advances. Because other conditions can have similarsymptoms, having any of the symptoms listed below doesnot necessarily mean you have cancer. What is important is having yourself checked if they develop.
The first sign may be a change in bladder habits:
Do you find you need to urinate more frequently?
Do you have to get out of bed to urinate once, twice or even three times a night?
Do you find your need to urinate is sometimes intense
Do you ever have difficulty in getting your urine flow started?
Do you have trouble in stopping your urine flow?
Do you find you sometimes cannot urinate at all?
Prostate cancer is typically a slow-growing cancer. Symptoms usually begin to appear after the tumour becomes large enough to affect the surrounding tissuesand organs. As the cancer progresses, other late signs and symptoms may appear.
You may experience pain in your bones or joints, especially in your back, hips, thighs and neck. You mightexperience weight loss or feel a general fatigue. You may also feel weakness or numbness in your legs or feet.Another sign is a low red blood cell count or anemia. Thiswill be detected by blood tests carried out by your doctor.And finally, you may experience a loss of bladder control or bowel control.
Early detection and screening are crucial since the cure rate is quite high when caught in the early stages. Oncethe cancer metastasizes (spreads) outside of the prostate, cure is very unlikely. It is best to get regular screenings before you notice any prostate cancer symptoms, sincesymptoms are rarely felt in the early stages of the disease.