Prostate Cancer – An Introduction


Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is a disease of the elderly male and is the 2nd most leading cause of cancer related deaths in men. Since the introduction of PSA test for screening purposes the incidence of prostatic cancer has seen a profound change. This is due to the early detection of prostate cancer cases which are asymptomatic. Even though prostatic cancer is a major cause for cancer related mortality, the ratio of 8:1 in incidence to prostate cancer specific mortality shows that majority of men do not die of prostate cancer.

Enlargement of prostate gland , which may be due to benign or malignant cause, is common in elderly males. The risk of prostate enlargement increases with increasing age. Age is an important risk factor in prostate cancer. Most of the prostate gland tumors are slow growing and prostate gland enlargement, including those due to cancer, produce minimal or no symptoms in many cases. The affected person usually dies of other causes rather than due to prostatic cancer. Therefore the patient and the doctor should weigh in the benefits of any kind of prostatic cancer treatment before initiating the treatment.

Anatomy and physiology

Learning a bit about the anatomy and the physiology of prostate gland will help in better understanding the mechanism and symptoms of prostatic cancer. This will also help in understanding the various treatment options available and making an informed choice regarding the treatment.

The prostate is a small gland in men, about the size of a walnut. It forms a part of the male reproductive system. The normal prostate gland weighs between 18 and 20 gm and is composed of glandular elements and fibromuscular tissue.

The prostate is located in the pelvis below the bladder and just in front of rectum. The prostate surrounds the urethra, the tube which carries both urine and semen and runs the entire length of penis.

Above the prostate are the seminal vesicles one on either side of the prostate gland. The seminal vesicles and the prostate are responsible for 90% of the contents of semen.

Removal of prostate and seminal vesicles during surgery renders the person infertile.

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