What is prostate cancer?
The prostate is a small gland located close to the bladder that produces prostatic fluid in men. This gland is responsible in the working of the male reproductive system. Prostate cancer is therefore a cancer that affects the prostate gland, causing growth of malignant cells on the prostate. Prostate cancer is more prevalent in older men, those above the age of 50. Growth of cells on the prostate as a result of prostate cancer is usually gradual. However, if this condition is left untreated, it can spread to other neighboring organs. The cancer cells of prostate cancer in most cases grow very quickly, and in some cases they might start doubling in a short period of time. The prostate cancer cells do not only remain in the prostate gland but they can even spread. Prostate cancer is not just limited to the reproductive area, as it gradually spreads in the bones and can also attack other organs.
Is prostate cancer asymptomatic?
The term "asymptomatic" is used to describe a disease that lacks symptoms. Prostate cancer can often be mistaken for a completely asymptomatic disease, because it can be asymptomatic in its early stages and the visible symptoms vary from man to man. It is accompanied by a number of usual symptoms, but they often do not show until the disease becomes more pronounced. This makes prostate cancer incredibly difficult to detect early on. But slowly the cancer cells start doubling, and then there comes a stage in which the prostate gland has such a prominent number of cancer cells that the cancer can be identified immediately. And automatically as the cancer cells start increasing, their presence starts reflecting through various symptoms. Symptoms may not be clear in the beginning, which is why a person might not even think anything is wrong.
With time, the malignant cells on a man's prostate grow, causing the cancer to manifest as a variety of symptoms. They may include:
- Blood in urine
- Pain or uncomfortable feeling during urination
- Frequent urination
- Pain around the hips and thighs
- Lethargy and tiredness
- Minor symptoms of anemia
- Symptoms of uremia
- A drastic drop in the weight
Prostate cancer may spread to places such as the lymph nodes, liver or even the lungs. This produces other symptoms as a result. Such symptoms may include:
- Pain in the newly affected parts such as the ribs, pelvis, and spinal area
- Urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence (if spread to the spine)
As soon as a person starts observing the above mentioned symptoms or gets even a small suspicion that he might have prostate cancer, he must immediately visit the doctor to proceed for the further tests required to make a diagnosis.
Progression of prostate cancer
Some specific cases of prostate cancer can be asymptomatic for longer periods of time, making it very difficult to detect the prostate cancer until its later stages. There are four stages of prostate cancer, each containing different symptoms and varying slightly between individuals. These stages are:
Stage I - This is the earliest stage of the disease. In most affected people, this stage does not exhibit any symptoms. It is characterized by cancerous cells being contained in the inside of the prostate.
Stage II - During this stage there can be symptoms which are caused by the spread of the tumor to the outer side of the prostate.
Stage III - Stage III is marked by an increase in symptoms, due to spread of the cancer to the seminal vesicles.
Stage IV - Symptoms are present, and are widely varied as a result of metastasis to organs such as the bones, bladder, lungs, liver and lymph nodes.
Prostate cancer and asymptomatic men
According to scientific research, there are men who are completely asymptomatic throughout the progression of their prostate cancer. These men go through the different stages of the condition without experiencing any noticeable symptoms. For asymptomatic men, prostate cancer is incredibly dangerous and often deadly. If you are at risk for being asymptomatic, doctors may recommend a PSA test. This can help ensure detection of prostate cancer in time for effective treatment. Men that have a family history of prostate cancer or are over the age of 50 are advised to take the test more frequently. In the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen), the urine of the patient is sent for some tests. This test makes a note of the following factors:
- Is there any sign of the prostate cancer antigens?
- If yes, what is their character?
- What is the amount of those cancer cells?
- What is the exact location of the cancer cells?
Treatment for prostate cancer
Once prostate cancer is diagnosed, it becomes very easy to cure it. Prostate cancer takes a very long time to spread, hence, there is a very low chance of prostate cancer being fatal. The prostate cancer cells can be successfully eradicated by using radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or certain other surgeries. The cancer that takes place inside the prostate gland itself becomes very easy to cure. In patients where the cancer has already attacked the bones, it is advised to consume a proper diet and take prescribed pain medications. The treatment for prostate cancer can only be started once the prostate cancer is identified.
The bottom line
If you have a family history of prostate cancer especially asymptomatic prostate cancer, you should take a PSA test. Men whose relatives have had prostate cancer have a higher chance of being diagnosed with the disease. Regular medical checkups are essential for early diagnosis of prostate cancer.
A huge amount of technological advancements are taking place in the field of medicine. Due to the various technologies coming in, diagnosis of any minor disease or even its negligible symptoms can be easily diagnosed. These technologies are extremely important in detecting prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is not fully asymptomatic, but in some men it can be asymptomatic and its typically asymptomatic in its early stages. It just takes some time for the cancer to build up in the body and start showing its symptoms clearly. It becomes the responsibility of the patient to keep track of any symptoms he is experiencing take the required action of visiting a doctor immediately.