Prostate cancer is one of the more prevalent cancers that afflict a large number of males every year. The disease is characterized by the growth of a tumor in the prostate gland, and if left untreated the disease can spread to other parts of the human body. Compared to other cancers, however, prostate cancer does not accelerate as rapidly, and a large number of cases that are left untreated can go unnoticed for as long as a few years before the person notices any marked changes or difficulties. This is also one of the reasons why the cancer is more prevalent in older men. What are the causes of this type of disease, which is so prevalent among men, and how can we better understand the disease itself?
Hormones play a big part in the development of prostate cancer. Androgens, the male hormones secreted by the body, play a major role. Research has shown that higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of the female hormone estrogen are indicators of impending or already occurring prostate cancer. Simply put, if you have higher levels of testosterone, you are at a higher risk for prostate cancer. As with other cancers, the primary culprits are genetic mutations that alter biological makeup on a cellular level – if these mutations affect the androgen hormones themselves, this could very possibly lead to prostate cancer.
Doctors normally screen for prostate cancer in a patient using the Prostate Specific Antigen blood test. The rectal exam is also employed by doctors to see if you are indeed having problems with your prostate. This is done in order to palpate the prostate to feel around for masses or lumps within.
Prostate cancer is primarily associated with problems in urination. In its early stages, prostate cancer will exhibit no visible or easily noticed problems. As the cancer spreads, however, the cancer will affect the urethra and urinary tract, causing urination problems. If you have difficulty in urinating, or if you notice blood in your urine, you may be at risk for prostate cancer. Other symptoms include frequent urination, pain or a burning sensation during urination and an interrupted urine flow. Later on, when the disease has spread, you may start to feel pain in the pelvic area, your lower back and hips.
Men who are afflicted with prostate cancer usually fall between 40 and 50 years of age. There are dietary, environmental and genetic factors that influence the cancer as well, but men who have the disease fall into this age range due to the slow growth rate of the cancer itself. Often, men diagnosed with prostate cancer die of something else, relative to their age at the time. Heredity and genetic make-up also have profound effects on whether or not you would be at risk for prostate cancer. If you have a relative who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you are at a higher risk for the disease than someone who has no family history of prostate cancer.