What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men accounting for 25% of all cancers (excluding skin cancers). In 2017 it is estimated that 161,360 of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 26,730 will die of prostate cancer. (Data of National Cancer Institute.) One out of seven men in the US will get prostate cancer. Prostate cancer incidence varies by race with African American having the highest incidence and Asians have the lowest.

Cancer begins in cells, which are the smallest units forming tissues and organs in the body. Normal prostate cells are genetically programmed to grow up to a certain size and number. They also form glands, make secretions to help nourish sperm, and with aging they undergo certain changes and may even divide in a benign way to cause BPH. Eventually they grow old and die or atrophy.

Cells become cancerous due to defects in genetic programing or due to exposure to a variety of risk factors. Many of them are unknown (but may include dietary chemicals, toxins, and hormones). Prostate cells will grow without control forming masses or nodules that cause various problems.

Local effects of uncontrolled cancer growth within the gland include compression of normal structures, such as the urethra tube; unregulated growth will cause blood vessel disruption resulting in bleeding and clots.

As cancer cells become more malignant, cells develop ability to break off and spread in the bloodstream and lymphatics and establish new cancer growths called metastasis. These metastatic cancer deposits occur most commonly in lymph nodes and bones. The lymphatic channels are present throughout the body including the prostate and are normally involved in clearing waste from cells. The lymph nodes are pea-sized structures that filter waste and are located near all organs within the body. Eventually the lymph nodes drain into the blood vessels. For prostate cancer, the lymphatic system is where cancer cells may spread to or near the bladder or elsewhere in the pelvis.

To learn more about prostate cancer and prostate anatomy, please click the following links for more information:

What is Prosate Cancer?

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