Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. It occurs when cells of the prostate mutate and begin to multiply out of control. These cells may spread (metastasize) from the prostate to other parts of the body, especially the bones and lymph nodes. Prostate cancer may cause pain, difficulty in urinating, erectile dysfunction and other symptoms.

Rates of prostate cancer vary widely across the world. Although the rates vary widely between countries, it is least common in South and East Asia, more common in Europe, and most common in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is least common among Asian men and most common among black men, with figures for white men in-between. However, these high rates may be affected by increasing rates of detection.





Prostate cancer develops most frequently in men over fifty. This cancer can occur only in men, as the prostate is exclusively of the male reproductive tract. It is the most common type of cancer in men in the United States, where it is responsible for more male deaths than any other cancer, except lung cancer. In the UK it is also the second most common cause of cancer death after lung cancer. Around 35,000 men in the UK are diagnosed per year; where around 10,000 die of it. However, many men who develop prostate cancer never have symptoms, undergo no therapy, and eventually die of other causes. That is because malignant neoplasms of the prostate are, in most cases, slow-growing, and because most of those affected are over 60. Hence they often die of causes unrelated to the prostate cancer, such as heart/circulatory disease, pneumonia, other unconnected cancers or old age. Many factors, including genetics and diet, have been implicated in the development of prostate cancer. The Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial found that finasteride reduces the incidence of prostate cancer rate by 30%. There had been a controversy about this also increasing the risk of more aggressive cancers, but more recent research showed this was not the case.

Prostate cancer is most often discovered by PSA (prostate specific antigen) screening and less commonly by physical examination or by symptoms. There is some current concern about the accuracy of the PSA test and its usefulness. Suspected prostate cancer is typically confirmed by taking a biopsy of the prostate (biopsy) and examining it under a microscope. Further tests, such as CT scans and bone scans, may be performed to determine whether prostate cancer has spread.

Treatment options for prostate cancer with intent to cure are primarily surgery and radiation therapy. Other treatments such as hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, proton therapy, cryosurgery, high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) also exist depending on the clinical scenario and desired outcome. As noted below (hormonal therapy section), Abiraterone Acetate is showing promise in reducing Tumor Size and PSA levels in Aggressive end-stage prostate cancers. The age and underlying health of the man as well as the extent of spread, appearance under the microscope, and response of the cancer to initial treatment are important in determining the outcome of the disease. Since prostate cancer is predominantly a disease of older men, many will die of other causes before a slowly advancing prostate cancer can spread or cause symptoms. This makes treatment selection difficult. The decision whether or not to treat localized prostate cancer (a tumor that is contained within the prostate) with curative intent is a patient trade-off between the expected beneficial and harmful effects in terms of patient survival and quality of life.

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