Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Usually prostate cancer grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, while some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or even no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.
This disease is very uncommon in men under 45 – most get diagnosed around the age of 70. The disease usually develops for a long time; it may take 10-15 years before the tumor gives symptoms.
Prostate cancer that is detected early — while it’s still confined to the prostate gland — has a better chance of successful treatment.
It’s not clear what causes prostate cancer. Doctors know that prostate cancer begins when some cells in your prostate become abnormal. Mutations in the abnormal cells’ DNA cause the cells to grow and divide more rapidly than normal cells do. The abnormal cells continue living, when other cells would die. The accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor that can grow to invade nearby tissue. Some abnormal cells can also break off and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
Known risk factors:
- high age
- genetic factors
- physical inactivity
- high intake of red meat and saturated fats
How is prostate cancer detected?
Prostate cancer rarely presents any symptoms at an early stage, so it is usually only detected after blood tests that show elevated levels of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) in combination with a digital rectal exam. The PSA blood test checks the amount of prostate-specific antigen that’s in your blood. If the levels are high, this could mean you have prostate cancer. A high amount of PSA may also have less serious explanations, such as inflammation / infection of the prostate or enlarged prostate.
Before you consider having a PSA blood test, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.
Prostate cancer rarely presents symptoms at an early stage. The earliest symptoms usually appear in the urinary tract – you may have difficulty urinating or need to urinate more often. Sometimes weight loss, fatigue and bone pain can also be signs of prostate cancer.
- Trouble urinating
- Decreased force in the stream of urine
- Blood in semen
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Bone pain
- Erectile dysfunction
Symptoms of more advanced prostate cancer:
- Weight loss and bad appetite
- Bone pain
- Kidney failure.
There are several treatment methods – surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. Which method is the most suitable depends on the spread of the cancer and your age.
The smallest tumors, which rarely develop into a serious cancer, require no treatment at all – many have very small tumors that never cause any problems. If the tumor is confined to the prostate and develops slowly, it is often possible to wait with treatment to avoid troublesome side effects.
If the cancer is more aggressive and is spreading, surgery, cytostatic or radiation therapy may be necessary. Prostate cancer can also be treated with hormones – the cancer cells need testosterone to grow and therefore the growth can be slowed if testosterone is blocked.
In addition, you may need to talk about the side effects of the medical treatment that often affects your sexuality. You can also get support through various patient associations and organizations.
Prevention and Protection
Lifestyle can help you to prevent prostate cancer. Therefore, it is important to be physically active, choose a healthy diet and stop smoking.
Studies show that some diets appear to be able to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the prostate, such as food that contains omega-3 fatty acids. Eat more fish, vegetables, fruits, olive and canola oil. Avoid too much sugar and sweetened foods.
The diet that seems best able to fight cancer includes:
- oily fish (salmon, herring, mackerel)
- tomatoes and soybeans
- flax seeds (whole) and rye
- pomegranate (or juice)
- green tea
- cabbage and onion plants
Regular checks are recommended for men with two or more cases of prostate cancer in the family – brothers, fathers, uncles and grandfathers who have been diagnosed before the age of 75. In such cases, the checks should start at the age of 40.
When to consult a doctor
If at least two of your family members or close relatives have suffered from prostate cancer, you should do regular PSA checks – talk to your doctor about it.
If you have symptoms that could be a sign of prostate cancer, you should seek medical attention, especially in case of involuntary weight loss or unexplained back or pelvic pain.
If you have a fever, chills, blood in urine or in semen, you should seek urgent care. This also applies to sudden pain in the urinary tract.
How APPOTEK can help
In the case of prostate problems, you can contact us at APPOTEK. A doctor can make an individual assessment based on your symptoms during the care meeting. You can then be prescribed medicines or referred for further treatment. Prostate problems require a physical examination.
If you have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer and need to talk to someone or get help processing your feelings, you can talk to one of our psychologists. We offer continuous follow-up and visits to psychologists and doctors.