What is Cancer?

Cancer is the uncontrollable proliferation of abnormal biological cells. Almost all cancer cells are caused by mutations of the genetic material of the malignantly transformed cell. These mutations may be induced by carcinogens such as tobacco smoke, radiation, certain chemicals and infectious agents, or they can be inherited and exist in every cell in the body, lying dormant and just waiting to show up randomly. Cancer cells possess the ability to travel to other parts of the body via lymph nodes and further spread the disease (malignant), although there's a chance this may not happen as well (benign). Cancer can arise in every part of the body, with a total of more than 200 types.

Prostate Cancer
The type of cancer I selected to talk about is Prostate Cancer. Prostate cancer is cancer that forms on or in the prostate gland, which helps secrete and store seminal fluid as part of the male reproductive system. Prostate cancer is commonly composed of multiple small tumors within the prostate, and is often curable at this stage, the downside being that it is excessively difficult to detect at this stage and most men don't even know it until it's too late. If left untreated, the cancerous cells can spread in a process known as metastasis, the cells are transported to other parts of the body making tumors appear just about anywhere else. Usually beyond this stage, the survival rate drops dramatically. Fortunately, prostate cancer is usually slow growing, taking quite a few years for it to be noticed by the diseased individual. With that advantage, research relating to it and treatment methods are highly sought after and is the main reason why I chose to talk about it.

Targets and Risk Factors
1 in 6 men will be diagnosed in their lifetimes, making prostate cancer the most prevalent cancer in men. A man's risk of developing prostate cancer depends on his age, race, diet, genetics, lifestyle, medications and quite a few more, although the main factor is age. It is extremely uncommon in men under the age of 40 (1 in 10,000), but the risk skyrockets to 1 in 38 men for ages 40 - 59 and 1 in 15 for ages 60 - 69.

Although age may seem like the only factor prostate cancer depends on, race and genetics are nearly as dependable. African American men are 61% more likely to develop prostate cancer compared with Caucasian men and are 2.5 times more likely to die from it. Men with any first-degree relatives (father, brother, son) who were diagnosed with prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop it. If 2 or more of his relatives were diagnosed, that man is now four times as likely to develop it. The risk is much higher if those relatives were diagnosed at a young age (before 60).

Diet and medication also plays an important role in a man's risk of developing prostate cancer. Low intake of Vitamin E and Selenium may increase the risk, as well as low blood levels of Vitamin D. This could possibly be linked by low exposure to the sun, as UV light increases Vitamin D in the body, so a man who dwells inside all day for 95% of the year is slightly more likely to develop prostate cancer, unless that man takes supplement vitamins. Frequent use of anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen may decrease the risk, as well as cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins). Inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis), or STD's such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis may increase the risk. Obesity and high levels of testosterone may increase the risk as well.

As seen in the video, there are 2 major areas of the prostate in which cancer can occur. Unlike other cancers, prostate can spread to it's surrounding parts easily, and continue to spread all over the body, including the liver, lungs and bones.

Prostate cancer in it's early stages is usually accompanied with no symptoms, although if a man tells his doctor that he's having urinary or sexual related problems, it usually leads to a full evaluation of the prostate. In it's middle stages, prostate cancer may cause frequent urination, difficulty urinating, blood in the urine, painful urination, difficulty obtaining an erection and painful ejaculation. The prostate gland surrounds the prostatic urethra, so changes within the gland will directly effect urinary dysfunction. Seminal fluid also passes through the prostatic urethra, which causes sexual problems.


- On average, 230,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year.
- 25,000 men die from prostate cancer every year.
- Prostate cancer rates have decreased within the last decade.
- Treading right behind lung cancer, prostate cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related death in men.

Prevention and Treatment
There are several different approaches to the treatment of prostate cancer. Men have a choice of which treatment to undergo after they take a look at all the possible side effects.The most common treatment methods for prostate cancer include prostatectomy (surgery), radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Prostatectomy is the surgical removal of part or all of the prostate. This treatment method is usually applied when the cancer is in it's early stages. There are 3 main types of prostatectomy:

- Transurethral Resection (right), is the process by which a Resectoscope is inserted into the urethra back to the prostate, thereby removing the cancerous tissue. This is the most common method, and has a surprisingly good success rate (80-90%).

- Radical Perineal Prostatectomy, is when an incision is made perineum (half way betweem the scrotum and rectum), and the prostate is removed from there.

- Radical Retropubic Prostatectomy, is when the prostate is removed by making small incisions in the lower abdomen and going behind the pubic bone.

Radiation Therapy is the process by which the targeted area of cells are killed by direct radiation exposure. This method is commonly used on prostate cancer in it's middle and advanced stages, but may also be used earlier if the man wishes so. There are 2 main types of radiation therapy for prostate cancer:

- Brachytherapy is the treatment by which tiny metal pellets composed of radioactive Iodine or Palladium are inserted into the prostate by needles via the skin behind the testicles. Following insertion, the entire process takes about a year. The pellets emit radiation, killing the nearby cancerous cells. Brachytherapy is far less common than external radiation exposure, but it is growing rapidly.

- External Beam Radiation Therapy is when X-Rays are "blasted" to the target tumor, which has been precisely mapped out by CT and MRI scans. The only downside being that the process will also destroy healthy cells. This method is the most common among prostate cancer treatment

Chemotherapy is the treatment process by which cancer cells are killed or halted by the intake of certain chemicals. Every single drug used in chemotherapy is designed to carry out 1 single process: stop the division of cells. If cells can't divide, the cancer cells can't divide and that means the tumor can be safely removed without the worry of it growing back. This method is is the 2nd most common choice for prostate cancer treatment, the only downside being that there are dozens of side effects. Each person has a different reaction to each drug used, but the most common side effects are hair loss, nausea and vomiting, anemia, weight fluctuations, and a decrease in the effectiveness of the immune system.

Interesting Facts

1. Besides castration at a young age, there is no known way to completely prevent prostate cancer.
2. Men who's mothers or sisters that have developed breast cancer, have an increased risk of prostate cancer.
3. The prostate needs time and male hormones to develop cancer. Testosterone does not cause prostate cancer, but is essential for prostate cancer to develop.
4. Lack of exercise can lead to general ill-health and makes someone more susceptible to all sorts of diseases, prostate problems included.
5. Many men die with prostate cancer, but not from it.
6. Studies have showed that African American men have an increased risk of prostate cancer, possibly because of higher testosterone levels.
Common Myths
1. Prostate cancer is only found in elderly men.
2. If you don't have any symptoms, you don't have prostate cancer.
3. Prostate cancer rates in the US are climbing quickly.
4. Nobody dies of prostate cancer.
5. You'll become permanently disabled.
6. Impotence always follows treatment.

10 Ways to Prevent Cancer
1. Avoid smoking and exposure to smoke.
2. Practice sun safety and recognize when skin changes occur.
3. Eat your fruits and vegetables.
4. Limit red meat and animal fat.
5. Limit alcohol intake.
6. Exercise.
7. Known your personal and family medical history.
8. Know what you're being exposed to in your work environment.
9. Practice safe sex.
10. Get screened for cancer regularly.



Works Cited,18180.asp