The prostate gland is represented by several types of cells, but the cells of its secretory (glandular) epithelium have a fatal capacity for malignancy. Cancer “born” of glandular cells (glandulocytes) is called adenocarcinoma. There are other types of cancer that develop in the prostate, for example, sarcoma, small cell and urothelial (transitional cell) carcinoma, but they are much less common than adenocarcinoma, so this article will be devoted primarily to it.
Some types of prostate cancer grow and spread quickly enough in the body, but this is rather the exception to the rule. It is not uncommon for an autopsy of a patient who died of a completely different disease to reveal prostate cancer, which neither the patient himself nor his attending physician even suspected.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer after skin cancer in men. It usually develops already in old age. Approximately two thirds of cases of prostate cancer are in people over 65, and the average age of a patient with this disease is 67 years. After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the deadliest cancer that humanity has ever known.
However, paradoxically, despite the seriousness of this cancer, most men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer eventually survive. For example, in the United States, more than 2.5 million patients who have ever been diagnosed with prostate cancer remain in good health to this day. As for specific figures, the 5-year survival rate for prostate cancer, as well as 10-year survival, is close to 100%. And only in the later stages of the disease, when the tumor has spread to distant lymph nodes, bones and other organs, the 5-year survival rate is 28%.
To date, scientists do not yet have the proper level of understanding of the causes of prostate cancer, but the risk factors that, under certain conditions, can lead to the formation of a malignant tumor, are not a secret behind seven seals:
Age. Prostate cancer practically does not occur in men under 40. But as soon as they celebrate their half-century anniversary, the risk of developing this disease begins to increase dramatically;
Family history. Prostate cancer can occur in members of the same family, which has led scientists to assume that it is hereditary. There is even such a figure that the presence of a father or brother with prostate cancer doubles the risk of morbidity;
“Bad” genes. This risk factor is directly related to the previous one. Scientists were able to detect a number of inherited genetic changes that increase the likelihood of getting acquainted with the described cancer in their unwitting owner;
Inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis). Signs of inflammation are often found in the tumor tissues of the prostate. The origins of the connection between prostatitis and malignant degeneration of tissues are not completely clear, but research in this area is ongoing and quite active;
The early signs of prostate cancer are very difficult to notice, as the disease develops almost without symptoms. In more advanced stages, this disease can cause urination disorders: weak and intermittent urine stream, frequent urination, especially at night. But these symptoms are not specific: more often they are associated with benign diseases of the prostate gland, for example, with adenoma.
As prostate cancer progresses, traces of blood (hematuria) may appear in the urine or severe erection problems may occur. Advanced prostate cancer usually metastases to the bone, which leads to pain in the hip joint, spine, ribs, etc. A tumor that has spread into the spine often compresses the spinal nerves, causing weakness and numbness in the extremities, and sometimes incontinence of the contents of the intestines and bladder.