Prostate cancer is one of the top four cancers in the United States today, affecting more than 190,000 men each year, though it has more than 2 million living survivors. It typically affects older men, and it is a relatively slowly progressing disease. However, even with the time afforded most men by prostate cancer, catching it early is imperative to improving the chances of survival. Thus, understanding the causes and symptoms of prostate cancer can increase the quality of outcomes.
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is a tumor or series of tumors growing in the prostate, a small gland that produces seminal fluid in men. It is one of the tumors that progresses more slowly, but can still metastasize (or spread) to other organs over the course of time.
What are the causes of prostate cancer?
Like other cancers, the causes of prostate cancer are not entirely known. Prostate cancer begins when some cells in the prostate gland reproduce themselves abnormally, thought to be caused by a malfunction in the individual cells’ DNA. They divide and reproduce more frequently than normal, healthy cells, crowding out the healthy cells. In time, they can sometimes separate from the prostate itself and metastasize to other parts of the body.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
The symptoms of prostate cancer relate to the stage of the disease, as the more cancerous cells there are in the prostate the more symptoms will likely appear. In the early stages, when the cancer has not had much chance to grow, there are few symptoms. Without a biopsy or regular check-up, prostate cancer will likely go undetected. However, as the cancer becomes more advanced, clearer symptoms do arise: difficulty going to the bathroom (specifically urinating), blood in the semen or urine, discomfort in the pelvic area, bone pain, swelling in the legs, and/or decreased force in the urine stream.
If any of these symptoms arise, a doctor should be consulted immediately. While these symptoms can indicate other conditions, any of these symptoms could indicate the presence of prostate cancer. The sooner a physician is seen and he or she can make a diagnosis, the greater the chances that treatment for prostate cancer will be successful.