What Causes Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is a highly prevalent health issue.

In 2020, 23,000 men were diagnosed with it in Canada. While in the United States, 57% of prostate cancer cases were found in male patients 65 years or older. In fact, this cancer represents 20% of all cancer cases in males, making it a widespread health problem.  

Luckily, the condition has a 98% survival rate. But, if prostate cancer ends up spreading to distant lymph nodes, organs, and bones, the survival rate can drop to a staggering 30%. This complication is referred to as advanced prostate cancer. 

That’s why it’s critical for people to spot the triggers and recognize the symptoms as soon as possible. With on-time treatment and early diagnosis, the survival rates tend to go higher. This is a detailed guideline on what causes prostate cancer, its risk factor, and possible symptoms.  

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What is Prostate Cancer, Exactly?

The most frequent prostate problems are an enlarged prostate, prostatitis, and prostate carcinoma. One problem doesn’t lead to the other. For instance, having an enlarged prostate does not make you susceptible to prostate carcinoma. 

But, it is vital that you understand the type of prostate growth that can happen in the human body. When there is an inflammation or a reaction to an infection in the prostate nodule, people can experience prostate growth.

Prostate growths can be malignant (cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous). Typical benign growths rarely pose a threat to life. They don’t spread or invade surrounding tissues and parts of the body. Malignant growths are different.

How it works

Prostate carcinoma is a malignant (uncontrolled) cell growth that is affecting the prostate gland. The prostate gland is a key component of the male reproductive system. It is a gland that’s the size of a walnut and can be found at the front of the rectum under the bladder. 

The prostate gland is meant to envelop the tube responsible for emptying the urine from the bladder. This tube is known as the urethra. Without the prostate, the male reproductive system won’t be able to create and store fluid that helps generate semen. Plus, the body needs the prostate to regulate bladder control. 

Prostate cancer cells travel through the lymph nodes or blood vessels and spread through multiple sections of the human body. Prostate carcinoma cells can break away from the tumor and attach themselves to nearby tissues, damaging the reproductive system. 

When cancer spreads further from its original place, the tumor develops abnormal cells. For example, the cancer cells can spread to the bones. The cells affecting the bones are actually prostate carcinoma cells. In other words, this is not bone cancer but metastatic prostate cancer

Localized Prostate Cancer

Some individuals may have localized prostate cancer. This cancer remains only in the prostate and is less likely to affect other tissues or travel to distant sections of the body.

Localized prostate cancer has two stages – stage 1 and stage 2. It tends to grow at a very slow pace, or it won’t grow at all. As a result, certain patients with localized prostate cancer may not require treatment. However, regular monitoring, watchful waiting, and check-ups are still necessary. 

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How to Recognize Prostatic Carcinoma?

During its early phases, this cancer is usually asymptomatic. Some cancer patients don’t develop any symptoms in the early stage. But, as time passes, the signs are quite similar to that of an enlarged prostate. 

According to experts, signs often believed to correlate with this cancer feature lower urinary symptoms. They tend to be easy to recognize.

The most typical signs of prostate cancer

  • Uncomfortable and dull pain (particularly in the lower pelvis)

  • Nocturia (frequent need to urinate at night)

  • Burning and painful urination

  • Poor urine flow

  • Haematuria (blood in the urine)

  • Pain when ejaculating

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Unexplained weight or appetite loss

  • Bone pain 

But, there is a major crossover in symptoms between benign conditions, like BPH and prostate carcinoma. This makes it very challenging to distinguish these two very different conditions. That’s where prostate cancer screening can help identify the problem. 

Screening for Prostate Carcinoma

If a healthy adult suspects they have this cancer, they can do a prostate cancer screening. There are two tests that can identify the health issue. These are:

DRE (digital rectal examination) 

DRE test is used to locate evidence of cancer. A healthcare provider will use a glove to insert a lubricated finger inside the rectum. This is meant to analyze the state of the prostate and find any abnormalities. 

PSA test 

Prostate-specific antigen testing can help with prostate cancer diagnosis. The test will measure the amount of non-cancerous and cancerous tissues in the prostate and help indicate prostate carcinoma in patients experiencing these symptoms.  

If the DRE and PSA blood test results find signs of prostate carcinoma, you will probably have to do a prostate biopsy. A urologist will do a biopsy to identify the Gleason score. This score determines the exact cancer grade.

A healthy Gleason score is anywhere from 6 to 10. Higher numbers often indicate that the cancer is spreading and growing quickly. The biopsy procedure takes a prostate sample so that it can be analyzed under a microscope. This is the primary method used for diagnosing prostatic carcinoma. 

Even though it might sound uncomfortable, patients experience only brief discomfort. It takes a second to insert and remove the needle. If there is a slight possibility that cancer could have spread, a surgeon will suggest radical prostatectomy. 

How to Determine If the Cancer Has Spread?

After the diagnosis, the doctor will know the extent of the condition. If testing showed that cancer might have transferred beyond the prostate, then patients will need to do one or multiple imaging tests to analyze the spread. 

Some patients could experience a sudden rise in PSA levels, indicating that the condition has metastasized.

In cases such as these, doctors might suggest:

  • MRI

  • CT scan

  • PET scan

  • Bone scan

What The Tests Show

The detailed imagery will display every segment of the body necessary for evaluating the patients. For example, with a bone scan, doctors can look at the entire skeleton and find any “hot spots” that may have been affected. 

CT scans assess the metastases in the pelvis and abdomen. They can help identify if the condition is affecting the lymphatic system. While PET scans will take a closer look at how the body functions, including its anatomy. 

These scans might be accompanied by CT scans. Together they can assess the stage of cancer in multiple ways that other tests can’t. During scanning, patients are injected with a small radioactive sugar. However, the radioactive exposure is only minimal. Therefore, the probable risks are considered to be relatively low. 

Of course, patients shouldn’t do every test. Instead, the doctor must select the ideal option that can help evaluate their current situation. The information taken from imaging tests can be used to further evaluate the stage of the illness. 

Prostate carcinoma stages range from stage I to stage IV. If the condition affects other parts of the human body, it means that the illness has spread and may require more rigorous treatment. 

What Causes Prostate Cancer?

So, what causes prostate cancer? The actual cause of prostate carcinoma remains unknown. However, scientists know how cancer develops and affects the system. Prostate cancer starts when there is a drastic change in the DNA of prostate cells. 

These genetic changes develop during a patient’s lifetime and appear only in specific cells in the prostate. Alterations such as these are known as somatic mutations. Because of the gene mutations, the cells start to divide and grow much quicker than normal cells. When these abnormal cells accumulate, they form a tumor and start to spread to nearby tissues. 

Risk factors

Although experts are unfamiliar with the cause, they have identified a couple of factors that make patients prone to cancer. These factors that increase your prostate cancer risk are the following. 

Age

The probability of developing prostate cancer increase with age. This is a typical malignancy diagnosed among older patients. Once people reach the age of 50, their cancer risk steadily increases. According to research, the incidence rate is almost 60% in male patients older than 65.  

Family History

Around 20% of male prostate cancer patients have a family history of prostate cancer. Many studies indicate that inheriting the same genetic background linked to prostate cancer can increase the risk of the disease. 

In other words, if someone in your family has developed cancer of the prostate, then you might be at risk of experiencing this condition. Also, patients with a family history of breast cancer (BRCA2 or BRCA1) can be vulnerable to prostate cancer. 

Clinical trials show that individuals who frequently struggle with skin cancer may also be susceptible to other cancers, like prostate cancer. But, more research is necessary to study the full impact of prostate carcinoma inheritance and its effect on the immune defense mechanism.

Ethnicity

For unknown reasons, African-American men are predisposed to prostatic cancer. The incidence rates in African- American patients is 157.6. While the lowest incidence rate of 46.9 is found in American Indian/Alaska men. This massive difference could be linked to biological factors and socioeconomic conditions. 

Studies indicate that genetic predisposition might have a major role to play. Plus, African-American patients who’ve already developed prostate cancer often display a more aggressive form of the illness. Cancer tends to spread and advance quicker. 

Obesity

According to Harvard experts, obesity increases the risk of prostate cancer. In overweight individuals, the extra risk of developing this form of cancer is 8%. But, in obese patients, the risk increases by 20%. While in severe obese males, it can go well over 34%. 

Australian studies showed that obese individuals had 2.2 times higher odds of experiencing aggressive prostatic cancer compared to fit patients. Every 22 pounds of additional bodyweight enhanced their likelihood by 40%. This creates a serious predisposition to prostate carcinoma. 

Diet

Diet is another major risk factor. In developing countries, the incidence rate of prostate carcinoma is much higher. In fact, in poor African countries, prostate cancer rates can be 40 times higher than in patients living in the U.S. 

Based on research, certain foods affect the body and make the system prone to this form of cancer. Meals high in saturated animal fat, dairy, processed meats, and foods are associated with elevated prostate cancer risk

Is There a Way to Prevent Prostate Carcinoma?

There isn’t a single full-proof method that helps you avoid the condition. However, certain strategies have proved effective in reducing the likelihood of developing this disease. Here are some of the most used tactics for prevention. 

Eating a Healthy Diet

Meals packed with veggies and fruits are highly beneficial for the body. They can lessen the risk of cancer and help people maintain optimal overall health. Experts suggest you opt for a low-fat diet, such as low-fat meats, dairy, oils, cheese, and nuts. 

Another option would be to eat more veggies and fruits-particularly those packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Even though there isn’t enough research to prove their efficiency in preventing prostate cancer, they are a good way of enhancing the immune system. 

Maintaining Healthier Body Weight

Since obesity increases the risk of prostate carcinoma, maintaining a healthy body weight is a necessity. When you lose the excess pounds, you can prevent the illness. So, be sure to do regular physical activity to maintain a healthy body shape. 

Consulting With a Doctor About the Probable Risk Factors

Some patients are more at risk of prostatic cancer than others. If you are vulnerable to the illness, it is better to consult with a doctor. They may suggest medications that lessen the risk and ameliorate the body’s defense mechanism. 

Treatment Options

Various treatments exist for prostate cancer. Selecting a prostate cancer treatment varies based on the stage of cancer. Usually, one treatment is used at a time. But, it’s not uncommon for doctors to recommend a combination of treatments, especially in advanced cancer stages. 

The initial treatment for prostate cancer could feature:

  • Active surveillance or observation

  • Chemotherapy

  • Radiation therapy

  • Surgery

  • Hormone therapy 

  • Targeted therapy

  • Bone treatment prostate therapy

  • Participating in clinical trials to test a new treatment

Hormonal therapy is sometimes paired with chemotherapy or external beam radiation treatment. While, during the fourth stage of cancer, the treatment will focus on alleviating pain. When receiving treatment, some patients might experience urinary incontinence. It can happen if the muscles or nerves that manage urinary function were damaged during treatment.  

If initial treatment does not prove useful, and the condition keeps spreading or growing back, doctors might use an alternative, like immunotherapy. The primary aim of any treatment is to control the condition and boost the patient’s quality of life. A doctor can decide the ideal form of treatment that can alleviate the symptoms and manage cancer. 

Key Takeaway

Men of any age could be susceptible to prostate carcinoma. In older patients, the risks tend to get higher. But, when diagnosed in its early stage and with adequate treatments, the survival rate is relatively high. 

Now you know what causes prostate cancer, if you or anyone in your family recognizes the signs, it’s crucial to consult with a doctor as soon as possible. Even if you don’t think you have the condition, but someone in the family does, then you might have inherited genes that make you prone to the condition.  

Although there isn’t a guaranteed method that prevents the illness, nutritious diets, healthy weight, and regular doctor check-ups could help you avoid the condition. What you should do is try to work on your immunity and keep your body in optimal shape. Now that you know everything about this cancer and what causes prostate cancer, you can take the proper preventive measures and treatment if necessary. 

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Sources

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  2. Canadian Cancer Society. (2021). Prostate cancer statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/prostate/statistics/?region=on
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prostate cancer. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/basic_info/what-is-prostate-cancer.htm
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  7. Prashanth Rawla. (2019). Epidemiology of Prostate Cancer. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6497009/
  8. Harvard Medical School. (2007). Obesity and Prostate Cancer. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/obesity-and-prostate-cancer
  9. University of Rochester Medical School. (2015). 5 Food Factors for Lowering Prostate Cancer Risk. Retrieved from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/publications/health-matters/5-food-factors-to-lower-prostate-cancer-risk
  10. American Cancer Society. (2020). Tests to Diagnose and Stage Prostate Cancer. Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/how-diagnosed.html
  11. Stanford Medicine News Center. (2018). Common skin cancer can signal increased risk of other cancers. Retrieved from: https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2018/08/common-skin-cancer-can-signal-increased-risk-of-other-cancers.html

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