Prostate Cancer: Forms, Symptoms and Treatment
Prostate cancer is cancer of the male sex gland. The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland. It produces a secret nourishing and transporting sperm.
Prostate cancer represents the most common oncological disease in men. According to the American Cancer Society, 1 out of 8 men will develop prostate cancer during their lifetime.
In most cases, prostate cancer grows slowly and is localized. However, some types of prostate cancer are aggressive and metastasize quickly. Even small prostate tumors can have malignant progression and give metastasis. That is why early detection is crucial.
Prostate cancer may not cause typical signs and symptoms in the early stages. However, one may experience more or less specific symptoms in more advanced stages.
Prostate cancer treatment options vary depending on the type and stage of cancer. It is essential to remember that prostate cancer does not mean “death. “Prostate cancer can be cured with early detection and the proper treatment. One can always opt for medical treatment abroad if up-to-date therapies are unavailable.
Forms of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is staged according to its spread, from stage I (limited to the gland) to IV (extended to other body parts).
Several different forms of prostate cancer exist.
- Prostatic adenocarcinoma: By far the most common prostate cancer type is prostatic adenocarcinoma. Another name for this type of cancer is glandular prostate cancer. It is further subdivided into acinar adenocarcinoma and prostatic ductal adenocarcinoma.
- Acinar adenocarcinoma: This subtype of prostate adenocarcinoma is more common. Usually, it starts developing from the back of the gland so that it may be felt during the digital rectal exam. Acinar adenocarcinoma of the prostate increases the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels and can be detected with blood tests.
- Prostatic ductal adenocarcinoma: This subtype of prostatic adenocarcinoma is less common but more aggressive. It develops in the ducts and tubes of the prostate gland. Furthermore, this subtype does not necessarily raise the PSA level.
- Transitional cell carcinoma: It is also known as urothelial cancer. Transitional cell carcinoma may first appear in the urethra or urinary bladder and then spread to the prostate.
- Neuroendocrine tumors: These types of prostate tumors are also known as carcinoids. They arise from the nervous and glandular tissue. Neuroendocrine tumors do not produce PSA, but they release a hormone into the bloodstream.
- Small cell carcinoma: It is the most aggressive type of neuroendocrine prostate cancer.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: It is infrequent but also a very aggressive, fast-growing type of prostate cancer.
- Prostate sarcoma: It represents soft-tissue prostate cancer. Prostatic sarcoma develops in the soft tissues outside the prostate.
Adenocarcinoma of the prostate is by far the most common prostate cancer form. Other types are pretty rare.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer symptoms are pretty unspecific. Furthermore, they may not appear until the disease advances. That is why prostate cancer is often undetectable in the early stages. Regular screening is, therefore, essential. A doctor should evaluate any suspicious changes.
Prostate cancer symptoms may include:
- Urinary problems: Trouble urinating, changes in the force and stream of urine, urine leakage, and painful urination can all appear due to prostate cancer. Prostate enlargement compresses the urethra, causing problems with urination. While these symptoms are usually present in urinary tract infections, or other urinary issues, they may also point out to prostate cancer.
- Blood in urine or semen: Blood in the urine is also known as hematuria, while blood in sperm is referred to as hematospermia. These two symptoms should never be ignored, as they could indicate prostate cancer. They may also appear as a side-effect of prostate cancer therapy.
- Unintentional weight loss: Unexplained weight loss should always be investigated. It is usually a sign of chronic diseases, including malignancies. Prostate cancer often leads to unintentional weight loss.
- Erectile dysfunction: Erectile dysfunction refers to the consistent inability to achieve an erection. However, erectile dysfunction is not directly related to prostate cancer. It is instead due to prostate cancer treatment.
- Bone pain: This is often the first sign that prostate cancer has metastasized to bones. Bones represent the most common site of prostate cancer metastasis. The pain felt is either dull or sharp.
How to Treat Prostate Cancer
As prostate cancer is a common oncological disease, the questions arise: Can prostate cancer be cured? What are the treatments for prostate cancer? Prostate cancer treatment varies, depending on the cancer’s form, growth, and patient’s overall health.
Early stages of prostate cancer may not require immediate treatment. In certain instances, treatment may never be necessary. If prostate cancer treatment is not initiated, regular follow-ups are crucial in order to monitor cancer progression.
Treatment options include:
- Surgery: Open or robotic prostatectomy includes removing the prostate, surrounding tissue, and lymph nodes. It is the option for localized cancers confined to the prostate. Besides, it can be used in combination with other prostate cancer treatments, in advanced stages.
- Radiotherapy: Another common treatment option for prostate cancer is radiotherapy.
- External beam radiation therapy uses high energy to kill cancer cells. It is also a treatment option for cancers confined to the prostate. However, in more advanced stages, radiotherapy may slow the growth of prostate cancer.
- Brachytherapy is the inside of the body radiation. The radioactive source is placed in the prostate tissue, which delivers a low dose of radiation over more extended periods.
- Ablative therapies: Prostate cancer treatments destroy tissue with cold (cryotherapy) or heat (high-intensity focused ultrasound treatment).
- Hormonal therapies: Hormonal prostate cancer medications to shrink cancer and reduce its growth.
- Chemotherapy: Different types of therapies are used for killing cancer cells. Chemotherapy is the treatment of choice for prostate cancers that metastasized.
- Immunotherapy: Immune system can also be used for fighting prostate cancer. Immunotherapy uses medications that stimulate the immune system to destroy cancer cells.
- Targeted therapy: Targeted drugs may be recommended in the treatment of advanced or recurrent forms of prostate cancer. Targeted therapy focuses on the cancer tissue, with minimal impact on healthy tissues.
Besides these treatments, other, novel treatment options exist nowadays. Prostate cancer has a good prognosis with early recognition and treatment. Furthermore, there are many specialized hospitals for prostate cancer treatment. Patients can always use medical tourism services to find the best place for their prostate cancer treatment.
Written by Natalia Volvak