Malignant Prostate Cancer – Malignancy of the Prostate Gland

June 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. It occurs when cells of the prostate mutate and begin to multiply uncontrollably. Another definition of the disorder delineates the condition simply as the malignancy of the prostate gland. The thing about prostate cancer, just like with most other forms of cancer, is that once the cells have had the chance to fester at their source of origin, they start to spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. In the case of prostate cancer, the metastasis is from the prostate particularly to the bones and lymph nodes.

Another notable fact about prostate cancer is that it lacks any symptoms in the early stages, making it virtually impossible to detect without medical assistance. As a result, many patients can live for many years without even thinking that they might have the disease. However, when the symptoms of prostate cancer do appear, they may cause pain, difficulty in urinating, problems during sexual intercourse, and erectile dysfunction during the earliest times. Later during the course of the disease, other symptoms can potentially develop, typically when the malignant prostate cancer cells have been able to find their way to the bones and lymph nodes. These latter symptoms include bone pain, usually in the pelvis, femur, vertebrae, and in the ribs; and then it may turn into leg weakness, and incontinence.

Diagnosing prostate cancer is relatively a straightforward process of one test after another. Often it begins with a DRE (direct rectal examination), and then on to the PSA (prostate specific antigen), and finally the prostate biopsy. At each stage the cancer specialist physician will only proceed to the next test if the results of the previous one are inconclusive or suspicious. It is however important to adequately stage the cancer once the diagnosis has been confirmed; staging makes it possible to determine how far the cancer has spread, and how aggressive it might be, to which end the best treatment may then be appropriated. Staging tests include MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT (computer tomography), and ribonucleic bone scans.

Once staging is out of the way, treatment for prostate cancer may now vary from prostatectomy ? surgical removal of all or part of the prostate ? to radiation therapy ? bombarding the mutated cells with ionizing radiation in order to kill them; from hormonal therapy ? to deprive the tumor from the critical hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone) that it needs for growth, to immunotherapy; from popular chemo, to high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). What gives, besides the stage of the disease, is the present health of the patient, and his disposition toward any particular remedy? and the chances that the disease will not relapse in the near future. Prognosis is only good (up to ten years) for early stage disease.

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