Prostate gland is a walnut sized gland that is wrapped around the upper part of the urethra. It is located at the base of the urinary bladder in the male reproductive system. The primary function of the gland is to produce a fluid that contains minerals and sugar. This fluid forms part of the semen and nourishes the sperms. Another function performed by the gland is to help control urination by pressing against the upper part of the urethra around which it is wrapped.
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate gland. The tumour is generally a slow growing one, but there have also been cases of aggressive forms of it. The cancer cells from the tumour are also likely to metastasise i.e spread to other surrounding organs.
Prostate cancer usually displays no symptoms at the primary stages of development. It is often diagnosed during routine check-ups. However, as it develops, the patient might start experiencing the following symptoms:
- Frequent urination
- Difficultly in passing urine
- Blood discharge in urine
- Painful ejaculation
- Difficulty in achieving and maintaining an erection
Prostate cancer, which is at an advanced stage and spreads to the spine may show profound and apparent symptoms like:
- Pain in vertebrae or ribs
- Weakness in the legs
- Pain in the proximal part of the femur bone
- Inconsistency in urine
- Faecal inconsistency
Age and genetics are the two important factors that can lead to this form of cancer. People who follow a vegetarian diet are at a lesser risk of developing this disease. Certain diseases and conditions like STDs and obesity can make a person more susceptible to developing a prostate cancer. Anti-inflammatory medications are also believed to lead to the condition.
A prostate cancer is diagnosed by carrying out a biopsy on the tissues taken from the prostate. If the tissue is detected to be cancerous, it is graded between 2 to10 using the Gleason System. Grading is very important in order to gauge the seriousness and to decide on the relevant line of treatment.
Gleason Score 2 – 5: Low-grade
Gleason Score 6 – 7: Intermediate grade
Gleason Score 8 – 10: High-grade
Other diagnosis techniques are:
The treatment is decided depending on the age of the patient and the stage of development of prostate cancer.
A localized tumour is generally treated using the following treatments:
- Radical prostatectomy – Surgical removal of prostate
- Brachytherapy – Planting radioactive seeds into the prostate
- Conformal radiotherapy – Conformal radiotherapy gives a better chance of killing the cancer, as it delivers a higher dose of radiation straight to the affected region.
- Intensity modulated radiotherapy – It is an advanced form of conformal radiotherapy.
A patient with an advanced stage of prostate cancer might require a combination of the above mentioned therapies:
- Key hole surgery – This is an advanced surgery technique that requires the patient to stay back in the hospital only for a couple of days contrary to the traditional radical surgery that requires an approximate 10 days stay and medical monitoring in the hospital.
- Hormone therapy – This therapy is effective in slowing down and at times even stopping the growth and spread of cancerous cells in the gland.