The prostate gland is an egg-sized organ that rings the male urethra. The secretions of the prostate give nutrients to the semen. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death in men. (Ernstoff,Heaney,Peschel,1998,pviii) Like all cancers, prostate cancer is an uncontrolled cell production in a particular organ or area of the body. In the case of prostate cancer, these cells begin to split impulsively in the prostate and form tumors. As these tumors begin to grow they begin to use up oxygen from other healthy cells and surrounding tissue. Not only do these tumors take up oxygen from other cells, they secrete protein signals that initiate the formation of new blood vessels. (CaP CURE,2000,p1) With the increasing rate of prostate cancer in males it is highly suggested that men begin to get tested for this form of cancer at the age of 30. There are two ways of diagnosing prostate cancer. The most common way is a rectal exam. Digital rectal examination can provide meaningful information in both the diagnosis and staging of prostate cancer. (Ernstoff,Heaney,Peschel,2,p48) The exam is fairly simple. A doctor places his finger in the anus and feels for the texture and size of the gland. The second way that a physician can determine if a male has prostate cancer is the PSA test, which measures the levels of the enzymes produced in the prostate. A method that is not widely used is an ultrasound to visualize the prostate. The rate in which the prostate grows can be reduced through the controlling of testosterone. Yet the prostate can never be stopped from growing and at some point it will grow uncontrollable and can be deadly. After a male is diagnosed with prostrate cancer, it is necessary for them to have surgery to either remove the tumors on and around the prostate, or remove the entire prostate. Many professionals in the field suggest that the entire prostrate be removed for a decrease in the reoccurrence of cancer in the body.
After the operation, most men will be off their feet for two to three weeks, unless radiation therapy is needed. While off their feet, the man will have to wear a catheter to eliminate the urine (something that the urethra usually regulates). A catheter is a thin tube that runs through the penis and urethra into the bladder. After the urethra heals and the catheter is removed, there is a bubble on the end within the bladder that keeps the catherer in place. The doctor will deflate the swelling and then remove the catheter. Following the removal of the catheter, alternative methods for controlling the flow of urine should be found. A very common option is wearing an adult diaper until dripping is controllable again. For cases of more severe prostate cancer, the post-operation treatment can be harder and longer process. Some methods are implant therapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy. The progression of the cancer will determine which method will be used to help eliminate any other cancerous cells in the body. For some patients, surgery is not the method that they would prefer to use in the treatment of their cancer. So alternative methods that are very similar to post-operative methods are used. Radiation treatment is used in cases where the tumors are small in number or are immediately outside the prostrate. Radiation treatment damages cancerous cells by either an external beam or implanting radioactive beads or other material in the prostrate. In hormone therapy, the cancer is controlled by limiting the supply of hormones that the cancerous cells would need to reproduce. This therapy is only used in cases where the cancer has spread outside of the prostrate. Chemotherapy uses toxic drugs to slow or reverse the spread of the disease in advanced cases. (Smith,Middleton,1987,p154)
Nearly 40,000 American men lose their lives to prostate cancer each year, one death every fifteen minutes. (NPCC,2000,p1) This rate of death is so high because American men are not aware of the risk factors of prostate cancer. Men need to be aware that as they grow older, they become more susceptible to this form of cancer. Prostate cancer used to be a major problem for men in their seventies, but now men fifty-five and older are contracting the cancer. Testing for this cancer should begin at the age of thirty to motor the prostate so that if it is detected the cancer will not be able to become too progressive. It has not been proven that prostate cancer is hereditary but two out of three men who contract the cancer have a family history of the cancer. (ACS,2000,p1) If a sibling or father has not had the disease, it is very important to find out the history of other males in the family, so individuals will be aware that they may be at a higher risk for the cancer. Diet can also affect the appearance of prostate cancer in males. If a person is eating a high animal fat diet, they almost double their chances of contracting prostate cancer. Yet a person that has a high tomato diet can decrease their risk of prostate cancer. Another risk is men with high plasma testosterone levels because high levels of testosterone aid the cancer cells in reproducing. African American males have the highest risk of developing prostate cancer. The incidence rate is almost doubled compared to white males. In year 2000 alone, 18,500 African American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. (NPCC,2,p2) The reason for the discrepancies in occurrence in African American males is not known, yet researchers do not think it is related to socioeconomic factors.
In closing, prostate cancer is a leading disease in the death of males. Nearly 200,000 new cases will be diagnosed each year. Between 1973 and 1993 prostate cancer incidence rates increased 192%. (NPCC, 3,p1) Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent prostate cancer. It is just very important that males get annual test to catch the cancer in its early forms. A healthy diet also can lower the risk. Many men do not die directly from prostate cancer but die with prostate cancer. This shows that males are not getting physicals to determine their health and are more than likely dying because they have a low immune system because of cancer. Prostate cancer is serious, but if detected early is survivable. It?s time that men take this form of cancer into their own hands and thus stop it from killing the rate of men that it does each year.
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