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Prostate Cancer

Prostate

The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system. It is located just below the bladder and wraps around the urethra. The prostate gland measures 3-4 cm long and 3-5 cm in width. On average, the prostate gland weighs 20 grams. The prostate consists of approximately 30% muscular tissue while the remaining is glandular tissue.  
Seminal vesicles are attached to the prostate and produce material that mixes with prostatic fluid to form semen. The tubes from the testicles carry sperm to the prostate, which mixes with the seminal fluid and is ejaculated during orgasm.

The prostate may increase in size as age progresses. This condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). More than 40% of men have an enlarged prostate by the age of 70. Enlargement of the prostate causes it to press against the urethra and weaken the flow of urine. An increase in size may indicate the condition of benign prostatic hyperplasia or a urologic condition. It need not necessarily indicate the growth of cancer cells. Benign prostatic hyperplasia does not increase the risk of prostate cancer but indicates the possibility of occurrence.

Three common diseases of the prostate are benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostates and prostate cancer. Each condition affects the prostate differently.

The male sex hormone, testosterone, plays an important part in the normal growth and function of the prostate gland. The testicles produce testosterone and is a concern for those diagnosed with hormone-dependent prostate cancer. As long as testosterone is produced, prostate cancer is very likely to grow and spread throughout the body.

The prostate has various concentric zones, known as the anterior fibromuscular stroma, peripheral zone, central zone and transition zone. A doctor is able to examine the peripheral zone by inserting a finger in the rectum. Benign prostatic hyperplasia develops in the transition zone and grows in size. The anterior fibromuscular stroma is the anchoring point of the urethra

sphincter. It does not contain any glands and hence cancer or enlargement does not usually develop there. It is essential to contact a urologist in case one experiences the symptoms to ensure early preventive care

Prostate Cancer

The uncontrolled growth of cells around the outer region of the prostate, which gives rise to the development of a malignant tumor, is called prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is common among American males. Over 250,000 cases are diagnosed in the United States every year.  
Early signs of prostate cancer are difficult to detect. Symptoms only set in once the tumor spreads. Change in urination habits with increased frequency or dribbling are the first signs of prostate cancer. The cancer may spread from the prostate to nearby lymph nodes, bones or other organs, leading to a condition called metastasis. As a result, some men experience back pain. Once the cancer spreads beyond the prostate it is difficult to cure.

The growth of prostate cancer is relatively slow and may not be detected for many years. It also takes longer to spread beyond the prostate. However, a small percentage of patients experience more rapidly growing, aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know for sure which prostate cancers will grow slowly and which will grow aggressively; this further complicates treatment decisions.

The presence of cancer cells around the prostate determines the extent to which the cancer has spread. It affects the areas surrounding the prostate such as the seminal vesicle, lymph nodes, rectum and bones. Even when prostate cancer spreads to other areas, such as the bone, it is still considered to be prostate cancer and not bone cancer.

A variety of causes and contributing factors lead to prostate cancer. The major risk factors are age, race and family history. The chances of prostate cancer increase after the age of 50. The incidence of prostate cancer in Asian men is the lowest. Caucasian and African American men are the largest groups afflicted with the disease.

The prognosis for prostate cancer patients has improved over the years. The survival rates for all stages of prostate cancer have increased from 67% to 97%. Public awareness and early detection are the main reasons for the increase in survival rates.
 

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