What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. Recently, it is possible to diagnose this condition in early stages thanks to advancements in screening and early diagnosis methods within last three decades.

Cancer may develop in any body part. Prostate cancer originates from the prostate gland. The disease is manifested by uncontrolled division of the prostate cells, leaving no space in the gland for healthy cells. This prevents the body function properly. Cancer cells may spread to other body parts. Sometimes, the cancer cells in the prostate gland may spread to bones and grow there. This condition is called metastasis. According to doctors, cancer cells look identical to prostatic cells at their new locations.

Cancers are always denominated according to their site of origin. Thus, prostate cancer that has spread to bones (or other areas) is called prostate cancer. The disease is not called bone cancer unless it starts in the bone cells.

Risk of the prostate cancer increases for persons older than 65 years and have positive family history of prostate cancer (especially brothers or father).

What is prostate?

As the prostate gland is an organ that is unique to men, only men suffer from prostate cancer.

The prostate gland is located immediately beneath the bladder anterior to the rectum. The tube that flow the urine passes through the prostate gland. (This tube is called urethra). The prostate produces a part of the fluid that helps the sperm stay alive and healthy.

What are different types of prostate cancer?

 There are several types of prostate cancer. Some are very rare. A substantial part of prostate cancers is adenocarcinoma.  This type of cancer originates from cells of the gland. Your doctor can inform you in more detail about the identified type.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

 Prostate cancer is usually asymptomatic, but some signs lead to suspicion of prostate cancer :

  • A lump in the prostate gland or asymmetrical prostate gland
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Difficulty in starting and stopping urinating
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Weak urinary stream
  • Interruptions in maintaining urinary stream
  • Pain or burn during urinating
  • Difficulty getting an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Blood in urine or semen

How is prostate cancer diagnosed?

Positive DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) findings or abnormal blood PSA (prostate specific antigen) result is among most important findings, but they do not necessarily imply that there is absolutely cancer, or similarly, above mentioned symptoms may originate from other etiologies (some other diseases such as non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland).

Your doctor will recommend biopsy to determine whether symptoms or abnormal DRE and PSA result from non-cancerous enlargement or prostate cancer. Trans-rectal ultrasound (TRUS) technique is used to collect biopsy specimens. A finger-sized probe is inserted into rectum and the prostate gland is visualized. After tissue specimens are collected from many regions of the prostate gland, these specimens are examined under microscope to investigate cancer cells.

If prostate cancer is identified in the light of biopsy specimens, some tests can be performed to determine how aggressive the cancer is. Your doctor may request some tests to determine whether tumor is confined to the origin (localized tumor) or whether it had spread to other body parts (metastatic tumor).

  • Bone scan (scintigraphy) to determine whether cancer cells spread to bone tissue
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and/or computed tomography to image interior regions of body in detail
  • Whole body Ga-68 PET/CT scan can be performed to evaluate both bone and other organ systems.

All those imaging studies not only provide information about extent of spread and characteristics of the cancer, but they are also important to stage the disease. Details about the stage of your disease are important to determine which treatment will provide the best outcomes.

 What are the stages of prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is staged using Gleason system. Cancer staging provides information regarding to what extent cancer can progress and spread. Cancer cells are staged from 2 to 10 based on to what degree they look identical to healthy prostatic cells. Cells that appear very different from normal cells are considered high-stage and these cells are more likely to proliferate rapidly.

A conventional staging system is usually used to determine whether localized or spread the tumor is. Stages of the prostate cancer range from Stage 1 (localized; cancer cells are confined to the prostate gland) to Stage 4 (tumor has spread to distant lymph nodes and/or organs, including bones). Determining stage of the cancer is important to plan the best treatment for the patient.

Treatment of Prostate Cancer

Efficiency of the treatment depends on how localized or how spread the tumor is. Your doctor will recommend one or more than one of following treatment options depending on stage of your disease as well as your age and your general health status.

  • Surgery (prostatectomy)
  • Radiation therapy (brachytherapy, external radiotherapy)
  • Hormone therapy
  • Chemotherapy

You can visit our page “Lutetium-177 PSMA for Patients with Advanced Stage Prostate Cancer” for more information.





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