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Prostate Cancer - What it is

Prostate cancer in men is the most frequently found cancer in the over 50 age group, an dit the second most deadly type of cancer after lung cancer.

The frequency of prostate cancer varies little throughout the industrialized nations of the west. It occurs much less frequently in Asia. However, when Asians leave their homelands to live in the west, the incidence rate multiplies by 5 times. This would appear to indicate the involvement of diet.

The incidence of prostate cancer in black Americans is the highest in the world which tends to indicate an ethnic predisposition.

Cancer of the prostate chiefly affects the older age group, with 73 being the average age at diagnosis. The extreme age limits are 45 and 85. But due to the ongoing aging of the population due to medical progress, it's likely that the number of prostate cancer victims will similarly increase.

The statistics for the cancer in the western world are a follows:

• 30% of men aged between 50 and 60
• 40% up to 70 years of age
• 70% up to 80 years of age

In general, the younger men are treated and those over 80 are simply surveyed since prostate cancer progresses only very slowly.

Prostate Cancer and Heredity

In prostate cancer the role of heredity is significant. The risk of developing this cancer is double if your father, uncle or brother is a sufferer. The risk is multiplied by 11 if all three have contracted it. If the cancer is hereditary in this way, it will generally occur around 40 years of age. This justifies a close medical surveillance of those at risk.

Prostate Cancer and Hormones

The longer you live, the greater the risk of contracting prostate cancer. The absence of male hormones protects you from prostate cancer (thus for example it doesn't survive in castrated men), and on the other hand, any treatment based on male hormones will increase the risk of pre-existing prostate cancer developing further.

The Biology of Cancer

Now let's take a look at the biology of cancer, in particular with reference to that of the prostate, which spreads very slowly as the years pass.

The cancer begins at the cellular, microscopic level. The cells reproduce to form a lump, palpable to the touch during a rectal examination. This lump will then grow and spread into the prostate. At this stage it stays confined within the prostate gland. However it will eventually breech these confines, spreading further and further, invading the seminal vesicles, the sphincta and the bladder. Via the lymphatic system it will then localize in the lymph nodes of the pelvis, before invading the whole body.

The cancer cells can also escape through the blood vessels and invade other organs, essentially the bones, but also the lungs, brain and liver.

Progressive Stages

The cancer thus has several progressive stages:

• the localised stage when it is still curable
• the locally advanced stage where it has advanced beyond the confines of the prostate
• the developed stage, generally with lymph node or bone metastases

What is Metastasis?

A metastasis is a cancerous cell from the initial tumor in an organ or tissue which migrates to another organ or tissue situated further away, resulting in a similar lesion.

Metastatic diffusion is a phenomenon characteristic of the evolution of cancers and malignities, resulting in a cascade of events: invasion of the tissue around the initial tumor; penetration of the local blood or lymphativc vessels; migration; then stationary and the formation of a new colony, along with the associated intervention of the body's defense mechanism.

Curing Prostate Cancer - React as Quickly as Possible

In order to cure prostate cancer, it needs to be diagnosed early whilst still little developed. We know that if the cancerous cells have already invaded the whole of, or the majority of, the gland then the risk of metastasis is already great.

In the same way that the cancer is born extremely tiny, metastasis also begins almost invisibly. Thus a large localized cancerous growth in the prostate might already have emitted cancerous cells into the body. This explains the reason why, even if the prostate has been removed, metastases can still develop during subsequent years.

To cure localized prostate cancer, it needs to be small, like a nut, and palpable to a rectal exam, or even so small that it can only be detected by a slight increase in the PSA level.

In the same way, the higher the level of PSA, the greater the quantity of cancerous cells are developing. And to have the greatest chance of curing the cancer, it's best that the level of PSA hasn't yet passed the 10 ng/ml mark.

The foregoing goes to demonstrate one thing very clearly: in order to remove prostate cancer at a sufficiently early stage, it needs to be so small that there will as yet be no obvious physical symptoms – no urination problems – such that the PSA level isn't yet too high. That means… to all intents and purposes, the man must be in apparently sound health!

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