Prostate cancer means that cancer cells form in the tissues of the prostate. It is the most common cancer in American men after skin cancer.
The prostate is part of a man’s reproductive system. It’s an organ located in front of the rectum and under the bladder. The prostate surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine flows.
A healthy prostate is about the size of a walnut. If the prostate grows too large, it squeezes the urethra. This may slow or stop the flow of urine from the bladder to the penis. The prostate is a gland. It makes part of the seminal fluid. During ejaculation, the seminal fluid helps carry sperm out of the man’s body as part of semen.
Male hormones (androgens) make the prostate grow. The testicles are the main source of male hormones, including testosterone. The adrenal gland also makes testosterone, but in small amounts.
Prostate Cancer Cells
Cancer begins in cells, the building blocks that make up tissues. Tissues make up the organs of the body.
Normal cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When normal cells grow old or get damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.
Sometimes, this process goes wrong. If it does, new cells form when the body doesn’t need them, and old or damaged cells don’t die as they should. As a result, there will be a buildup of extra cells, which often forms a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor. Pleas note that prostate growths can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). To learn more about the difference between benign and malignant growths, read Signs and Symptoms of
Cancer cells can spread by breaking away from the prostate tumor. They enter blood vessels or lymph vessels, which branch into all the tissues of the body. The cancer cells can attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage those tissues. The spread of cancer is called metastasis. To know what causes Prostate Cancer, read Prostate Cancer Risk Factors.
Statistics on prostate cancer
Estimated new cases and deaths from prostate cancer in the United States in 2008:
- New cases: 186,320
- Deaths: 28,660
- About 16 percent of American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
- Eight percent have serious symptoms.
- Three percent die of the disease.
Prostate cancer tends to grow slowly compared with most other cancers. Cell changes may begin 10, 20, or 30 years before a tumor gets big enough to cause symptoms. Eventually, cancer cells may spread (metastasize) throughout the body. By the time symptoms appear, the cancer may be more advanced.
By age 50, very few men have symptoms of prostate cancer, yet some precancerous or cancerous cells are present. More than half of all American men have some cancer in their prostate glands by the age of 80. Most of these cancers never pose a problem. They either give no signs or symptoms or never become a serious threat to health.
A much smaller percentage of men are actually treated for prostate cancer. Most men with prostate cancer do not die from this disease.
Knowing the Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer is very important as it may help detect this disease at an early stage when it is more easily cured.
Source: National Cancer Institute
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