Types of cancer
What Is Prostate?
A muscular and apricot sized gland that is situated in the middle of the bladder and the penis is called the prostate. The prostate is located in the front part of the rectum. Halfway through the prostate, the urethra is present and runs from this gland and the bladder through the penis and let urine excrete out of the body.
The prostate is responsible for secreting out some fluids that help in the nourishment as well as the protection of sperm cells, when a person ejaculates, the prostate squash this fluid into the urethra after which it is expelled out along with sperms in the form of semen.
The prostate can be split into four zones, i.e., anterior fibromuscular zone (made out of fibers and muscles), peripheral zone (present at the back of the gland and contains a high amount of glandular tissues), central zone (present around ejaculatory ducts) and transition zone (surrounds the urethra).
Function of Prostate
The prostate gland is considered as a part of a male reproductive system whose most important role is to discharge prostate fluid (that makes semen). The muscles of this gland can help during ejaculation by impelling the seminal fluid in the urethra.
During ejaculation, millions of sperm cells move towards testes by the help of a tube called vas deference. When it happens, the prostate muscles contract and close the opening that is present amidst urethra and bladder. It leads to the discharge of fluid in the urethra, formation of semen and then pushing out of that semen through.
This fluid, which is secreted by the prostate, makes up more than one-third of the entire semen volume and holds many enzymes and elements such as citric acid and zinc. The seminal fluid is a little alkaline in nature due to which it can easily increase the lifespan of sperms. Another most essential component of prostate fluid is an enzyme called PSA, i.e., Prostate-Specific Antigen, which also helps in guarding the sperms through liquefaction of semen so they can easily swim after ejaculation.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Depending upon the location of the prostate gland and its association towards urethra and bladder, prostate cancer is complemented by multiple types of urine symptoms, particularly during the early stages.
The most common early symptoms of prostate cancer are:
- Pain during urination
- Burning sensation during urination
- Difficulty in passing urine
- Trouble in starting and stopping of urination
- Frequent urges to urinate especially during night time
- No bladder control
- A reduced flow of urine stream
- Hematuria (presence of blood in urine)
- Blood in semen
- Erectile dysfunction (difficulty in getting an erection)
- Ejaculation becomes painful
When prostate cancer spread or metastasize, the tumors may spread to the nearby bones and organs. If the cancer cell reaches the spine, it can cause pressure on spinal nerves. The advanced signs and symptoms of prostate cancer are:
- Swelling in legs
- Swelling in the pelvic region
- Constant pain in bones
- Bones can get easily fractured
- Increased levels of PSA in blood, i.e. (prostate-specific antigen)
- An enlarged prostate may make it difficult and painful even to sit
- Change in bowel habits
- Constant fatigue
- Unexplained loss in weight
Stages of Prostate Cancer
Prostate Cancer Grading
The Gleason system is utilized to grade prostate cancer from 1-5 according to the pattern of cells found in the obtained tissue sample:
- Grade 1 (The cancer cells are the same in appearance as of normal prostate cells)
- Grade 2-4 (Cells look almost close to being normal but are a little less aggressive. Later, they start to appear very different from the normal cells and grow at a more rapid speed)
- Grade 5 (most of the cells now look entirely different from normal cells)
TNM System for Staging Prostate Cancer
To describe the stages of prostate cancer, doctors use the TNM system to determine various aspects of tumor spread and growth.
- T stands for tumor (What is the size of the area where cancer is present)
- N stands for nodes (If cancer has grown into lymph nodes and if yes then how far)
- M stands for metastasis (How far the cancer cells have spread).
The cancer cells are only present in the prostate. The doctors are not able to see a tumor during a digital rectal examination or any other imaging tests like CT scan or X-ray. The Gleason score is 6, and the PSA level is less than 10.
- Stage IIA (The cancer cells are present in the prostate only. More than half of one prostate lobe is affected by the tumors, but the Gleason score is 7 with less than 20 PSA level)
- Stage IIB (The cancer cells are still present in the prostate, but now they may have consumed one or both lobes of the gland)
- Stage IIC (Cancer has not grown out of prostate but appear more abnormal than Stage IIB. the Gleason score and PSA levels remains the same)
- Stage IIIA (Cancer cells have not spread to any lymph nodes. the Gleason score is 8 or less, and the PSA level is 20)
- Stage IIIB (Cancer cells have now spread out of prostate but have not reached any other organ or lymph node)
- Stage IIIC (The only difference is in Gleason score, i.e., 9/10, and PSA is above 20)
- Stage IVA (The cancer cells have now reached lymph nodes)
- Stage IVB (Cancer cells now cover lymph nodes as well as other distant organs of the body)
How to Diagnose Prostate Cancer
DRE (Digital Rectal Exam)
During this procedure, a well-lubricated and gloved finger is inserted in the rectal opening for prostate examination. If the doctor feels like there is any mutilation in texture, shape, and size of the gland, further tests will be performed.
PSA Test (Prostate-Specific Antigen)
Blood samples are taken for the analyzation of PSA (a substance secreted from the prostate gland). Lower levels show no abnormality, but high levels may indicate inflammation, prostate enlargement, cancer or infection.
A doctor can ask you for a transrectal ultrasound where a small probe (similar to the shape of a cigar) is inserted in the rectum, and sound waves are used to illustrate the gland.
How to Prevent Prostate Cancer
A Low Fat Diet
Foods that are abundant in fats such as oil, dairy products, meat, nuts, and milk should be avoided to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Avoiding these foods has other benefits like maintained weight and improved heart functioning.
More fruits and vegetables in the diet
Vegetables and fruits have a high amount of vitamins, minerals, and other significant nutrients that are considered to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Though there is no certain proof against a particular nutrient, studies have shown that by eating more fruits and vegetables, you will have less room in your stomach for other high-fat foods.
Maintain Healthy Weight
Men who are fat/obese and have a BMI of 30 or high are at an increased risk of prostate cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the number of calorie intake is very important to stay away from a cancer-causing situation.
Men who exercise at least two or three times a week have a low risk of prostate or any other type of cancer.