Learn more about the second most common form of cancer that effects men.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. In 2023, The National Cancer Institute estimates there have been 288,332 new cases and 34,700 deaths in the United States as a result of prostate cancer.
The prostate, a small gland in the male reproductive system, secretes the seminal fluid that nourishes and protects sperm. As men get older, the prostate can grow and block the urethra or bladder. This condition, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is not cancerous, but its symptoms can be similar to prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer often grows slowly, not spreading outside of the prostate gland. Sometimes this means little or no treatment is necessary. However, it can also be more aggressive, spreading to other parts of the body quickly. The key, as with any cancer, is to discover it early to improve your chances for survival.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Know what to look for if you suspect having prostate cancer.
While there may be no evident symptoms in prostate cancer’s early stages, as it progresses the following symptoms may be exhibited:
- Frequent urination (especially at night)
- Urine stream is weak or interrupted
- Pain during urination or ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen
- Swelling in the legs
- Pelvic discomfort
- Bone pain
Prostate Cancer Causes
An exact cause of prostate cancer is still unclear, there are some factors that increase risk.
The medical community has yet to fully grasp what causes prostate cancer. What we do know is that it begins with changes in the DNA of prostate cells. These changes can lead to normal prostate cells growing abnormally and becoming cancerous. These abnormal cells can accumulate, forming a tumor which can infect neighboring tissue.
While the causes of prostate cancer may still be a mystery, certain factors such as age, genetics and race are known to increase one’s risk for developing it.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
The medical community offers several prostate cancer treatment options.
The conventional treatment plan suggested to someone with prostate cancer will vary based upon how much the cancer has spread, how fast it is spreading, your overall health. Your doctor will also weigh the benefits compared to the potential side effects of the possible treatment.
If the cancer has been detected in the early stages of its growth, treatment may not be necessary. The patient may simply be monitored with blood tests, rectal exams and biopsies.
The decision to move forward with prostate cancer treatment is not to be taken lightly. That’s because the treatment itself is not without its own risks. The potential for serious side effects include
- Bowel problems
- Difficulty with sexual performance (erectile dysfunction, loss of fertility)
- Urinary dysfunction
There are also the potential for side effects related to hormone therapy and chemotherapy. So, if a man is experiencing other health issues or is in an advanced age, the risks may outweigh the potential benefits.
However, obviously sometimes the decision to move forward with a treatment is the necessary. There is no one right direction to take in which treatment is best. Through with the expert direction of your doctor, you and your medical team can reach a conclusion for the best approach for your unique needs.
Radiation is used to kill cancer cells, which can be done through external radiation or with brachytherapy, which is when very small radioactive seeds are placed in the prostate tissue.
This treatment stops the body from producing testosterone, which the prostate cancer cells need to grow. When the testosterone supply is cut, it may cause cancer cells to die or to grow more slowly.
Patients will commonly undergo a radical prostatectomy. During a prostatectomy, surgeons remove the prostate gland, some surrounding tissue and lymph nodes.
Cancer cells can be killed with cryosurgery (cryoablation), which is when tissue is frozen. Small needles are placed in the prostate, guided by ultrasound images. A cold gas is inserted in the needles, which freezes the surrounding tissue. The tissue is then reheated with a second gas. The freezing and thawing is what kills the cancer cells.
Prostate tissue can be heated with ultrasound. Powerful sound waves heat prostate tissue which kills cancer cells.
Chemotherapy drugs kill rapidly growing cancer cells, which can be administered through a vein, pill, or both.
Prostate Cancer Prevention
There are no known holistic or naturopathic cures for prostate cancer.
There is no alternative treatment that can cure prostate cancer. But these methods are more likely to work as a way to cope with side effects of cancer and traditional medicinal treatments. Stress and anxiety can be improved with exercise, relaxation techniques and music therapy, among many other options like botanical medicines and acupuncture.
Prostate Cancer Resources
Find more information and support for prostate cancer.