Cancer of the prostate, a common form of cancer, is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the prostate. The prostate is on the male sex glands, and is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The size of the prostate is about the size of a walnut. It surrounds the part of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. The prostate makes fluid that becomes part of the semen, which contains sperm. Prostate cancer is most commonly found in older men.
As a man gets older, his prostate may get bigger and block the urethra of bladder, which can cause him to have difficulty urinating or even interfere with sexual functions. This condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and although it is not cancer, surgery may be needed to correct it. The symptoms of BPH, or other problems in the prostate may be similar to symptoms of prostate cancer. Some common symptoms of prostate cancer are: weak or interrupted flow of urine, urinating often (especially at night), difficulty urinating, pain or burning from urinating, blood in the urine, and nagging pain in the back, hips, or pelvis. Often, there are no early symptoms of prostate cancer.
Once cancer of the prostate has been found, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread from the prostate to tissues around it, or to other parts of the body. This is called “staging.” It is very important to know the stage if the disease to plan for the treatment. The following stages are used for prostate cancer:
Prostate cancer at this stage cannot be felt and causes no symptoms. The cancer is only in the prostate and usually is found accidentally when surgery is done for other reasons, such as BPH. Cancer cells may be found in one, or many areas of the prostate.
The tumor may be shown by a blood test or felt in the areas of the prostate during rectal exam, but the cancer cells are only in the prostate gland.
Cancer cells have spread outside the covering (capsule) of the prostate to tissues surrounding it. The seminal vesicles may also have cancer in them.
Cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes near or far from the prostate, or to other organs and tissues, such as the liver or lungs.
Prostate staging can also be described using T (tumor size), N (extent of spread to lymph nodes), and M (extent of spread to other parts of the body).
Three kinds of treatments for prostate cancer that are commonly used are Surgery (taking out the cancer), radiation therapy (using high dose x-rays or other high energy rays to kill cancer cells), and hormone therapy (using hormones to stop cancer cells from growing). Surgery is the most common of the three treatments.
The cancer may be removed by either radical prostatectomy, transurethral resection, or cryosurgery (removing the cancer by freezing it. Radical prostatectomy removes the prostate and some...