According to pathophysiological studies, prostate cancer forms in several steps, starting from some genetic or other factor that causes an uncontrolled multiplication of cells. Normal prostate cells lose the control over their division and increase in number monstrously when they fail to adequately respond to the factors that influence cell division. This way, they start turning into cancerous cells.
Prostate cancer may originate in the general cells of prostate gland (in which case it is called adenocarcinoma) or it may start in semen-secreting cells of the prostate gland (called glandular prostate cancer). Adenocarcinoma commonly occurs in the peripheral parts of the prostate gland and, in the beginning, may be a benign tumor. The glandular prostate cancer starts in the semen-secreting prostate cells, mostly when these cells undergo mutation, which results in the uncontrollable growth of the cancerous cells.
As prostate cancer progresses, its pathophysiology is deviated from small and insignificant irregularity in prostate cells to a radical change in the structure and function of the cells. Cancerous cells become less differentiated and do not perform the normal function that they are genetically programmed to do. They become malignant (tumor-forming) cells. If the prostate cancer is of a ‘spreading’ nature, it first invades the lymph nodes, outside the prostate gland, in the pelvic area.
In advanced stages, prostate cancer can spread to other body parts like bones, bone-marrow, lungs, and liver. At this stage, it is known as ‘metastatic cancer’ and is most virulent to the patient. In about 70% cases of prostate cancer, if the diagnosis is done at the metastatic stage of cancer, the patients live for less than five years.
Pathophysiology is the key to better understand the factors responsible for initiating and furthering the growth of cancerous prostate cells. While these factors are not yet completely understood by pathophysiologists, two main types of factors have been marked with the increased risk of prostate cancer: biochemical factors and environmental factors. Among the latter is the high intake of animal fat, which affects the normal growth of prostate cells.
Studies also link a person’s testosterone level to the development of prostate cancer. High testosterone levels have been associated with increased risk of prostate cancer, though not all studies support these findings. Then there is a person’s own genetic disposition toward prostate cancer. People having a family history of prostate cancer are more prone to this disease, particularly in their older years.