What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in males and is only surpassed by lung cancer as the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. It affects men from the age of 40 with increasing incidence at 65 years and older. According to the American Cancer Society, in the United States in the year 2003, approximately 220,900 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer out of which 28,900 men are predicted to die from this disease.
One of the difficulties faced by doctors in recommending the best treatment for prostate cancer patients is the uncertainty surrounding many issues related to the disease. Once diagnosed, no one can say for certain what the rate of growth of the tumor will be or whether the advancement will be slow, which means postponing treatment, or if it will grow quickly with perhaps life threatening consequences to the patient. 80 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are in the early stage. According to the National Cancer Institute, presently there have been no randomized studies comparing the relative benefits of treating early stage prostate cancer patients with either radiation therapy, radical prostatectomy (surgical removal of the entire prostate gland along with nearby tissues), or watchful waiting.
The cancer develops in the prostate, which is a male sex gland and part of the man’s reproductive system. The prostate is about the size of a walnut and is located at the base of the bladder, in front of the rectum. As men age, the prostate tends to increase in size and may lead to difficulty with urination. Although many of the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer can be similar, BPH is a non-cancerous condition. It is also important to recognize that prostate cancer is often symptom free.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Beginning symptoms: Most often patients diagnosed with prostate cancer have little or no symptoms associated with the diagnosis. Frequent urination, urgency to urinate, burning upon urination, waking at night to urinate, and blood in the urine may all be possible symptoms associated with the cancer, but more often are related to benign processes.
Late symptoms: Patients in whom the cancer has spread may experience the same symptoms as listed above plus bone pain and leg swelling.