Prostate cancer continues to be a major threat to men’s health, the second most common cancer in men, in many countries. Therefore it is increasingly important that those faced with difficult clinical questions make the right decisions. Prostate cancer is a relatively common type of cancer, affecting the small walnut-shaped prostate gland located near base of the bladder found only in men. The gland surrounds the upper segment of the urethra, the tube that leads from the bladder to the penis.
This type of cancer is a malignant growth of cells of the prostate gland, called adenocarcinoma. Prostate cancer commonly occurs in men over age 50. Symptoms include frequent or painful urination, blood in the urine, sexual dysfunction, swollen lymph nodes in the groin, and pain in the pelvis, hips, back, or ribs.
Prostate cancer generally takes a long time to progress and it can take 10 years before it is detected. However, some men have a particularly aggressive form of the disease, and the disease can grow and spread more quickly.
This form of cancer poses major challenges in developed countries. In England it is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, and the second most common cause of death from cancer in men (after lung cancer).
This Type of cancer is a disease with strong geographic variation, both internationally and also within individual countries or regions. Like most cancers, the development of prostate cancer typically occurs over a long period of time.
African American men should begin prostate cancer testing at age 40. African American men and all men with a family history of prostate cancer should, also get an annual PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test. Other men can wait till age 50 for the annual PSA test.
Prostate cancer is difficult to treat without life-changing side effects. The gland, which helps produce semen, is lodged deep in the abdomen, just below the bladder. While the disease will claim nearly 31,000 deaths this year, there is growing evidence that educational efforts leading to early detection and diagnosis are resulting in lower mortality.
Medical experts who encourage regular screening believe current scientific evidence shows that finding and treating prostate cancer early, when treatment might be more effective, may save lives.
Researchers have recently identified a series of gene markers that, when present with family history of the disease, increase a patient’s risk of prostate cancer more than nine times.
Those markers, say researchers, can be detected in a simple saliva or blood sample – good news for a condition whose prognosis is improved by early detection. Researchers say they will soon be reporting results of a phase II study and are planning phase III studies. They hope the drug can be on the market in 2011. So if you’re reading this blog, and you have not been tested, don’t wait for the last minute. The life you save may be your own.