Prostate Cancer

Overview

Prostate is responsible for the production of semen in males. Prostate cancer is a form of a cancer that starts in the prostate gland. Both Prostate cancer and BPH (Benign prostatic hyperplasia) can cause an enlarged prostate. But they only cause common symptoms, no other similarity exists between the both. BPH is not cancerous and fatal like prostate cancer. There is another condition called as ‘Prostatitis’ wherein the prostate becomes swollen, tender and inflamed which is also not cancerous as well as different from BPH.

Every case of prostate cancer is different. Fortunately, it is one of the most treatable cancer types if detected early.

Risk factors for developing prostate cancer include age (generally over 60), diet (people who consume animal fat) and family history.

Some of the common symptoms include trouble in urinating, more than usual urination, pain while urinating or ejaculation, blood in the urine or semen.

Regular screening helps in early detection of prostate cancer. Early detection can lead to successful treatment.

Risk Factors

  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection
  • Lack of regular PAP tests
  • Smoking
  • Weakened immune system
  • Chlamydia infection
  • Diet
  • Being overweight
  • Use of oral contraception
  • Multiple full-term pregnancies
  • Young age at the first full-term pregnancy: Women with their first full-term pregnancy before the age of 17 are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer
  • Family history
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES): Use of this hormonal drug to prevent miscarriages increases the risk for cervical cancer

Symptoms

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Bleeding that occurs between regular menstrual periods
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse, douching, or a pelvic exam
  • Menstrual periods that last longer and are heavier than before
  • Bleeding after going through menopause
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex

Diagnosis

Although symptoms may suggest that cancer is present, the use of diagnostic imaging, biopsies and other tests can help confirm whether the cancer really exists.The following are tests that may be conducted in diagnosing cervical cancer:

  • Colposcopy
  • Cervical biopsies
  • Cytoscopy, proctoscopy, and examination under anesthesia
  • Chest x-ray
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Ultrasound

Treatment Options

Treatment options may consist of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, other localized therapies or any combination of these treatments.

Surgery may consist the following options:

  • Radical trachelectomy: Removal of the cervix, part of the vagina, and the lymph nodes in the pelvis.
  • Total hysterectomy: Removal of the cervix and uterus.
  • Radical hysterectomy: Removal of the cervix, some tissue around the cervix, the uterus, and part of the vagina
  • Chemotherapy: is a cancer treatment that uses anti-cancer drugs to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy radiation beams to eliminate cancer cells or stop them from growing.

Radiation therapy consists of external beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy or internal radiation therapy.

External beam is a treatment option that uses localized high energy radiation beams to eliminate cancer cells and keep them from growing.
Brachy therapy uses a radioactive substance, usually in the form of seeds which are placed directly into or near the cancer which helps to shrink the tumor.