Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer diagnosed in men around the world today. Despite years of research, little is known as to the exact cause of prostate cancer, making it an area of intense research in medicine today. The pathology of prostate cancer has yielded important information on prevention, diagnosis and treatment methods. It has been understood that diet has much to do with tumor growth, and new research into nutrition is revealing new strategies in prostate cancer prevention. Genetics also play an important factor and must be taken into consideration A number of new treatments for prostate cancer have been successfully implemented. Since prostate cancer is most common in men 50 and older it is for the, as well as for younger men, to be aware of prostate cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment options. The healthcare physician can play an important role in patient education to help patients know how they can prevent prostate cancer from occurring.
A gland that occurs only in men, the prostate is a small, walnut sized gland associated with the male reproductive system. (Porth, 2011, p.1023). This small organ is prone to a number of diseases, one of which is prostate cancer. While the exact cause of prostate cancer is still unknown, it effects a large number of men, especially in America, making it a great cause of concern for American over the age of 50. While the exact cause of prostate cancer is still unclear, there are several factors that have been linked to its frequency. One is diet. It has been noted that men that have a low consumption of fish oils have have a higher rate of prostate cancer than those with a high consumption of fish oils (Terry et al, 2001, 1766). Dietary fat has also been linked to the occurrence of prostate cancer in men. Dietary fats may alter the production of sex hormones and growth factors, leading to an increased risk for prostate cancer (Porth, 2011, p. 1026). In addition, those who have a diet high in vitamins D and E, selenium, soy, green tea and tomato-rich products (which contain lycopene) typically have a lower occurrence (Porth, 2011, p.1026).
Genetics has also been found to be an important factor in determining who is at risk for prostate cancer. “It has been estimated that men who have an affected first degree relative (e.g., father, brother) and an affected second-degree relative (e.g., grandfather, uncle) have an eightfold increase in risk” (Porth, 2001, p. 1026). It is unclear as to whether this genetic disposition has to do with actual gene defects or with similar patterns in diet and lifestyle.
There are many factors that impact the prognosis of prostate cancer. One is age. Prostate cancer is uncommon in men under the age of 50. In fact, more than 85% of those diagnosed with prostate cancer are older than 65 years of age. Another factor is race. Prostate cancer is most common in men of African American descent (Porth, 2011, p. 1026). Weight can also factor in to the likelihood of a person having prostate cancer due to the fact that it is indicative of a diet high in dietary fats, which has been linked to prostate cancer.
While there is no single way to prevent prostate cancer there are several things that can be done to help reduce the risk of developing it. The most effective preventative treatment is a change in diet. The consumption of fish containing high amounts of fatty acids, such as salmon, herring and mackerel (Terry et al, 2001, p. 1765) has been found in several studies to reduce the risk of prostate cancer (Terry et al, 2001 and Augustsson et al, 2003). However, it is still not clear as to the exact mechanism by wish fish, and fish oil, prevents tumor growth. As Augustsson et al (2003, p.64) reported, the reduced risk of prostate cancer varied between groups that ate fish more than three times per week and groups that simply added marine fatty acid supplements to their diet. Other nutritional factors include ensuring an adequate amount of vitamins D and E are being taken into the body, as well as selenium, soy and green tea. Soy and green tea are consumed in high amounts by Asian populations, all of which have a much lower incidence of prostate cancer than those from cultures from which these foods are typically absent from the diet.
There are currently four main treatment methods for prostate cancer, radiation therapy, surgery, hormonal manipulations and watchful waiting. Chemotherapy has not been proven to be an effective treatment for prostate cancer. They type of treatment that is most appropriate depends upon the grade and stage of growth of the tumor itself. It also depends on the health and age of the individual. Watchful waiting, or expectant therapy, is typically recommended for older men and those who already have other health problems, as long as the tumor is not producing symptoms or expected to grow too quickly (Porth, 2011, p. 1027). Surgery, typically radical prostatectomy, is used to treat prostate cancer by removing the seminal vesicles, prostate and ampullae of the vas deferens. Thanks to new refinements in surgical techniques, including nerve-sparing prostatectomy, in many continence and erectile function has been spared in those undergoing surgery for prostate cancer. Another common treatment for prostate cancer is radiation therapy, in which a small external beam of radiation is focused on the tumor to shrink and kill it. Finally, hormone therapy is also being used as a way to treat prostate cancer. Hormone therapy relies on a variety of techniques to reduce testosterone levels, a hormone which stimulates tumor growth (Porth, 2011, p. 1027).