People magazine broke the news last week that veteran actor Ryan O’Neal was diagnosed with prostate cancer. O’Neal, 70, who battled leukemia in the 1990s, told the magazine that his prostate cancer was a stage 4 — but that his doctor gave him a good prognosis.
Stage 4 cancer means the cancer has metastasized (or spread) elsewhere in the body. Stage 4 is the most difficult stage of cancer to treat, and the survival rate for Stage 4 cancer is usually very poor.
The prostate makes up part of the male reproductive system. Anatomically, the prostate is a gland that sits directly below the bladder. The prostate secretes semen which neutralizes the acid in a woman’s vagina and prolongs the life of sperm (secreted from the testicles).
Because all embryos (babies) start out as females — women also have female prostate glands, formerly called Skene’s glands. The female prostate gland (which is now the uterus) sits in the same anatomical position as the male prostate. The opening of the female prostate (Skene’s gland) is near the urethra, which drains urine from the bladder. Like males, the female prostate gland also secretes an alkaline solution, which most women confuse for urine during orgasms.
Causes of prostate Cancer in males
The specific cause of prostate cancer in men is unknown. The average age at diagnosis is 70 (Ryan’s age). But males of any age (usually over 50) are diagnosed with prostate cancer. In the U.S. 30,000 men die of prostate cancer every year. Risk factors include black men, men over 60, diet (too much red meat, high fat diet and not enough fish and vegetables), alcohol, hereditary (a brother or father who was previously diagnosed), medications (steroid injections), and infections caused by STDs or a retrovirus can all increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Cancer begins when normal prostate cells transforms into cancer cells which rapidly multiply in the prostate. Eventually, the multiplying cancer cells enlarge the prostate gland and it begins to push against other organs, causing pain.
Signs (what you see) and Symptoms (what you feel):
Early prostate cancer usually has no signs or symptoms. Symptoms usually occur when the prostate has enlarged to the point that it invades other organs nearby. You might also experience difficulty obtaining an erection and difficulty ejaculating. If the tumor spreads to the bones or lymph glands, there will be pronounced pain at the sites where the cancer has spread.
Other signs and symptoms include:
If you experience any of these signs and symptoms, consult your physician or health care professional. If you do not have a doctor, go to the emergency room.
Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer in males
A positive diagnosis is confirmed by performing a biopsy of the tumor.
Once the prostate has enlarged, it can be detected easily by a doctor or healthcare professional during a digital rectal examination. During the exam, the doctor will wash his hands and put on gloves. The doctor will insert a lubricated and gloved finger into your rectum and feel the inside.
If the doctor feels a tumor inside your rectum, or an uneven area, he will order tests such as a biopsy of the prostate tumor, and/ or urine tests and blood tests to look for the presence of antigens or proteins which indicates cancer. Your doctor might also order a CT Scan, Ultrasound or a MRI to visualize the tumor.
Treatment includes surgery to remove part or all of the prostate, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or hormones. Depending on your age and the size of the tumor, the doctor might elect not to do anything except monitor your blood work to make sure the tumor does not spread.
This has been your Medical Minute.
More Info On the Web
Prostate Cancer – Pubmed Health
Prostate Cancer – MayoClinic
Prostate Cancer – Wikipedia
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