by Kimberly Allen, RN
The prostrate gland is a small organ that is situated at the neck or base of the urinary bladder and surrounds the beginning of the urethra in males. The urethra is the small tubular structure that leaves the urinary bladder allowing the urine to drain out of the bladder and exit the body. The prostate gland’s main responsibility is to produce certain substances like sugar and minerals that are found in semen. It also assists in controlling urination by pressing against the urethra.
The prostate gland in a young man is approximately the size of a walnut. However, the gland grows larger during the normal aging process. This normal increase in size due to the aging process is a hormone-related enlargement and is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH and is not cancerous. However, it can cause some of the same problems as prostate cancer in older men. Prostate cancer is second only to skin cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the US. Prostate cancer is also the second leading cause of death by cancer in men in the US, only lung cancer is higher. The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 238,590 new cases will be diagnosed this year and that approximately 29,720 men will die from prostate cancer. Approximately 80% of prostate cancer occurs in men 65 years of age or older with the average being 67 years of age. It’s a rare for a man to develop prostate cancer before 40 years of age.
The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown, however, it is not believed to be related to BPH. Most experts believe there are certain predisposing factors that can lead to developing prostate cancer including increasing age, hormonal influences and genetics as well as environmental – factors such as exposure to chemicals, toxins and industrial products. Most experts also believe that diet also contributes to a mans chance of developing prostate cancer. Men that eat larger amounts of animal fat, especially from red meat, have a greater chance of developing prostate cancer because fats activate increased hormones like e\testosterone. As testosterone is known to speed the growth of prostate cancer, a person with increased testosterone levels can develop prostate cancer from dormant cancer cells. Also, African-American men are not only more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men they are also more likely to have a more aggressive cancer and more likely to die from it.
Usually there are no symptoms when prostate cancer is in it’s early stages, they tend to manifest when the cancer is advanced. Some of the symptoms you might experience include difficulty urinating as well as a decreased force in the urine stream. There may also be blood in your urine and/or semen some men also complain of pelvic and bone pain.
Treatment for prostate cancer depends on many factors include how fast it’s growing, how far it has spread and your overall health. Other considerations include wether the treatment will benefit the patient and wether there are the potential side effects of the treatment. Some men may never need treatment. There has been some controversy in recent years about whether or not all men diagnosed with prostate cancer need treatment. Some experts believe that there are many cases of prostate cancer that are being treated unnecessarily. Today there are numerous treatment options available and they are much better than they were a decade ago. Deciding if or how to treat your prostate cancer can be difficult. It’s important to sit and discuss the options available with your doctor to create a treatment plan that fits your individual needs.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.