Prostate cancer (prostate cancer)
What is prostate cancer?Schematic representation of the anatomy of a healthy prostate and an enlarged prostate. Click to enlarge.
The prostate gland, also called prostate gland, is a gland belonging to the reproductive organs of the man. It is about the size of a walnut and the shape of a chestnut and is located below the bladder in front of the rectum.
The prostate consists mostly of connective tissue and muscles and produces some of the fluid that is expelled during ejaculation. Prostate carcinomas usually develop in the outer area of the gland and are the most common type of cancer in men.
Prostate cancer usually occurs in older men over the age of 70, but can also be diagnosed in younger men. However, enlargement of the prostate is not always prostate cancer - benign tumors and harmless inflammation of the prostate are common.
Prostate cancer is caused by a combination of different risk factors. One significant factor that can lead to this condition is heredity. If a family member already has prostate cancer, the likelihood is about twice that of contracting prostate cancer.
Another risk factor for prostate cancer is age. In men under the age of fifty, prostate cancer is less common than in men who have already exceeded that limit. Diet and lifestyle can also trigger the onset of prostate cancer.
Men who eat high-fat and low-fiber foods are more at risk than those who eat a lot of vegetables and fruits. This suggests that a high body mass index is a particular risk factor for prostate cancer.
Symptoms, complaints & signs
In most cases, initially no striking symptoms occur. First signs are usually only perceived when the tumor has reached a certain size in the prostate (prostate gland). However, these are often not very characteristic.
In advanced disease, it is most often problems with urination (micturition disorders), as the urethra is narrowed by the tumor and the urine flow is thus blocked. Typically, this includes a delayed onset of urination, urinary retention (inability to urinate), or increased dripping. Often residual urine remains in the urinary bladder after micturition.
This is accompanied by a general increased urinary frequency, which occurs especially at night. Occasionally abnormalities of the urinary stream appear. This can be very weak or interrupted frequently. It can also lead to erectile dysfunction, painful ejaculations and low ejaculation. Nerve damage sometimes causes genital pain.
Some sufferers have difficulty draining the intestine. The urine or seminal fluid may contain visible blood. In addition, a number of common symptoms of cancer can occur. These include fever, night sweats, poor performance, overall fatigue and tiredness, weight loss or anemia. If metastases have already formed in the bones, there is severe pain in the lower back, in the pelvis or on the hips.
Diagnosis & History
In many cases, prostate cancer is detected in the course of a check-up because there is no pain and no discomfort at the beginning of the disease. Symptoms that may still indicate prostate cancer include urinary problems, defecation disorders, unexplained weight loss, blood in the urine, and bone pain.
Symptoms of this kind, however, are usually not noticed until the prostate cancer has already metastasized. The most common examination of the prostate is the digital, rectal examination - the doctor scans the prostate through the wall of the rectum and assesses the size, shape and texture of the prostate gland.
In addition, the PSA test, which pays attention to the release of the protein molecule of the prostate-specific antigen, can provide information about a prostate carcinoma. Other diagnostic procedures include tissue sampling, ultrasound scans and computed tomography.
Late detection of prostate cancer can significantly affect bladder function as it progresses. Possible complications include hyperactivity of the bladder with constant urination, occasional involuntary loss of urine, or complete incontinence. If the tumor damages the nerves around the prostate, erectile dysfunction occurs.
In the advanced stage a prostate carcinoma often forms secondary tumors (metastases) in lymph nodes and bones, especially in the pelvis, thighs, ribs and back. Bone metastases are very painful and often result in bone fractures. A metastatic prostate cancer is usually treated with radiation or chemotherapy, as possible side effects may include inflammation of the bladder and rectum, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss and increased susceptibility to infection.
Hormone therapy is often accompanied by a reduction in bone density, hot flashes and potency disorders, in the long term increases the risk of metabolic disorders and cardiovascular diseases. Full surgical removal of the prostate can be complicating temporary or long-term urinary incontinence and narrowing of the bladder outlet, making urination difficult.
Damage to certain nerve cords during surgery causes loss of erectile function. If a prostate carcinoma is left untreated or the treatment starts too late, secondary tumors may spread throughout the body eventually causing the death of the patient.
When should you go to the doctor?
Men who experience irregularities or changes in libido should seek medical attention. If it comes to abnormalities in the toilet, special urination or a general malaise, a doctor is needed. Swelling, a tightness in the abdomen or pain indicate a health impairment. A visit to a doctor is necessary as soon as the symptoms persist or increase.
Disorders of the erection, pain in the ejaculation or a loss of control of the urinary behavior are to be examined and treated. If there is pain in the back over the genital area, there is an acute need for action. In these cases, the disease is already at an advanced stage. Since the prostate cancer untreated leads to premature death, a check-up visit to a doctor is already indicated at the first abnormalities. In addition, men should in principle take part in regular examinations of cancer screening so that an early diagnosis of the disease is made possible.
A decrease in body weight, fatigue, fatigue or rapid fatigue are signs of an existing condition. If it comes to the formation of unusual night sweats, decreased physical performance or bleeding, a doctor is needed. A pale complexion, an internal weakness or listlessness are further indications of a health disorder. If complaints arise during defecation, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible.
Treatment & Therapy
Prostate cancer can be treated in a variety of ways, with the therapy chosen depending on the stage of the disease, the age and general health of the individual, and the rate of growth of the tumor. The treatment may consist of one or more therapeutic approaches.
One method of treatment for prostate cancer is, inter alia, radiotherapy, whereby there are two different types of this therapy. On the one hand, the patient can be irradiated from the outside and, on the other hand, irradiation by radiation source implants can be used, in which the affected person is implanted with small radiation sources that act directly on the tissue of the prostate.
Other methods used to treat prostate cancer include hormone therapies that deprive the body of testosterone, surgery to completely remove the cancer at an early stage, immunotherapies, and chemotherapy. Treatment success is all the more likely when prostate cancer is detected early.
Prostate cancer is a condition that can only be partially prevented. However, it is important to lead a healthy life with lots of exercise and a healthy diet. You should also pay attention to a normal body weight and take countermeasures if the body mass index is higher than 30. In addition, men should go to the age of 50 at the latest to check-up. Men who have already had cases of prostate cancer in the family should even start screening earlier to have their prostate cancer diagnosed at an early stage.
If the treatment of the disease is terminated by prostate cancer, it is usually not possible for the patient to shape and live the normal everyday life. Physical and mental impairments often burden the patient very much. Therefore, after completion of the treatment of the prostate cancer of the patient, follow-up takes place.
It begins about a quarter of a year after the completion of treatment. The patient should be regularly examined by the attending urologist. Only in this way can the recurrence of the cancer be recognized early enough to intervene early by appropriate treatment. During the follow-up examinations the determination of the PSA value is of high importance.
If this value is harmless, further investigations are dispensable. In addition, it is necessary in the context of follow-up to recognize the side effects and side effects of the treatment and treat. Here, for example, the risk of thrombosis or long-term defects in urination occur.
Furthermore, the aftercare will help to absorb and treat mental, physical and social problems. The purpose of the follow-up treatments is to accompany and support the patient as much as possible on the way back to normal life. If necessary, the patient is at working age for which optimal ability to work should be restored.
You can do that yourself
Prostate cancer is a serious condition that needs to be treated by a medical team. However, those affected can take some measures to mitigate the signs of disease and promote recovery.
First of all, protection and calm apply. During or after treatment, the body is severely weakened and must not be stressed by stress, exercise or strenuous physical work. A suitable diet and compliance with the proposed hygiene measures additionally support the healing and prevent any complications such as chronic fatigue, bleeding or wound healing disorders.
Patients should also go through with the appropriate physician the medications that are currently taken. Certain preparations have a dehydrating effect or influence the bladder muscles and must therefore be avoided. Those who regularly take diuretics, antidepressants, antiallergic drugs, Parkinson's drugs or anticonvulsants should inform the doctor about it. The doctor can clarify the risks and point out possible alternatives.
In consultation with the doctor also various homeopathic remedies can be tried. These include pumpkin seeds, nettle root and sawtooth palm, as well as various extracts and salves from medicinal herbs. If any side effects occur after taking these preparations, the family doctor must be informed.