The prostate is a male sex gland. It is about the size and shape of a walnut. It is located behind the bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate surrounds the urethra. This is the tube the carries urine out of the bladder. When a man has an enlarged prostate, he may have trouble urinating. This is because the prostate is swollen and pinching off the urethra.
An enlarged prostate is just one problem that a man may face. Prostate cancer is another real concern for men as they grow older. The sooner that prostate cancer is detected, the better the prognosis. But prostate cancer has no symptoms in the early stages.
One of the first symptoms of prostate cancer is difficulty urinating. But this symptom is not a definite diagnosis of prostate cancer since there are other medical conditions that can cause urination problems.
If a man notices a change in urination habits, he should see his doctor. The doctor will do a prostate exam. This consists of the doctor sticking a gloved finger into the rectum to feel for lumps in the prostate.
The doctor may order a Prostatic Specific Antigen or PSA. This is a blood test that can detect substances in the blood that indicate prostate cancer. If a patient has lumps in the prostate and an elevated PSA level, the chances that he has prostate cancer are very high.
Prostate cancer may spread to other areas of the body if not detected and treated. An ultrasound, MRI or other forms of X-rays may find cancer that has spread to other areas. If the doctor suspects that a patient has prostate cancer, he will probably take a tissue sample from the prostate to examine for cancerous cells. This is called a fine needle biopsy.
Once it is determined that cancerous cells are present, it is important to stage the cancer. This will help the doctor decide the best treatment. Stage one prostate cancer cannot be felt and causes no symptoms. The cancer is contained in the prostate and has not spread.
Stage two prostate cancer is cancer that is located in the prostate. It can be felt on a rectal exam. This stage of prostate cancer still does not produce any symptoms.
Stage three prostate cancer is when the cancer cells have spread outside of the prostate and into the surrounding tissues. The patient will begin to have difficulty urinating with this stage.
Stage four prostate cancer is when the cancer has traveled through the lymphatic system to other organs of the body such as the bone, liver or lungs. Bone pain, weight loss and extreme tiredness are common symptoms of stage four prostate cancer.
The treatment for prostate cancer depends on the stage of the cancer and a patient’s general health. Treatment options range from surgery to radiation and hormone therapy.
Most cases of prostate cancer are curable with today’s advanced treatment options. The American Cancer Society recommend that all men over the age of fifty get annual prostate screenings to detect prostate cancer as early as possible.
American Cancer Society: Prostate Cancer Overview
National Cancer Institute: Prostate Cancer
Prostate Cancer Foundation: What is Prostate Cancer
Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia: What is Prostate Cancer
Cancer Research UK: Treating Prostate Cancer
MedlinePlus: Prostate Cancer
National institute of Health Senior Health: Prostate Cancer
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Prostate Cancer
Department of Health New York State: Prostate Cancer