November 26, 2007

Important Information on Prostate Cancer Facts Every Man Should Know

Prostate cancer is a disease that afflicts the prostate gland, which is only found in men. Located just below the bladder, the gland is roughly the size of a walnut and is in front of the rectum. The urethra -- the tube that transports urine from the bladder -- is surrounded by the prostate gland.

The prostate is also an important part of the male reproductive system, containing cells that protect and nourish sperm in the seminal fluid. A man's fertility can be compromised if these seminal fluids are not provided by the prostate.

The prostate grows when a boy begins to go through puberty and become a man. This growth depends upon the hormones that affect the prostate. Low hormonal levels won't allow the prostate to grow to full size.

The part of the prostate gland part that surrounds the urethra can continue to grow even into old age, creating a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. The resulting growth puts pressure on the urethra, causing difficulty with urination. Although it can be rather uncomfortable, this condition is not serious and does not pose any risk to a sufferer's life.

However, prostate cancer, if left unchecked and untreated, can indeed be fatal. Prostate cancer is a slow growing form, known as prostate adenocarcinoma. It can grow so slowly that many men will carry the disease around for years and not even know. Some cases of prostate cancer are not even discovered until an autopsy is performed after death. Thus, prostate cancer can exist for quite a long time without any obvious external symptoms, such as urination trouble.

Even though a large amount of research has been conducted on the causes of prostate cancer, there have not yet been any definitive conclusions. Some physicians subscribe to the belief that small, barely detectable changes in the size and shape of the prostate gland is the beginning signal of prostate cancer. This change is known as prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, or PIN.

PIN consists of two levels -- a high grade or low grade (closer to a normal shape). A high grade PIN level is considered abnormal. If a PIN high grade is detected during a biopsy, further tests are necessary since cancer cells are likely present in the prostate. Like most cancers, early detection is vital for successful treatment and survival.

Although prostate cancer often progresses slowly, it can sometimes grow quickly. The disease can actually spread rather quickly. There is currently no way to determine which cancer cell types are more likely to grow quickly or slowly. It may be the case that most cancer diagnoses are uniquely different because every individual is unique, requiring unique treatment and care for every person.

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