In the male reproductive system the prostate gland aids in the production and storage of semen. The gland is located in the pelvic region under the bladder and in front of the rectum. Prostatic cancer is normally found in men of more than fifty years of age with the average age at diagnosis being seventy. Because this is a disease of older men there are instances of slow moving prostatic cancer that are in essence manageable diseases. Something else will kill the patient before the prostatic cancer does. This fact makes deciding on treatment options difficult.
Prostatic cancer should not be discounted or ignored, however. Not only is prostatic cancer the second most common cancer in males, it is also responsible for killing more men than any other cancer except lung cancer. Prostatic cancer is a serious illness and because it often presents with no specific symptoms until the disease has dangerously progressed men of more than fifty years of age should have an annual prostate specific antigen test.
The prostate specific antigen test (PSA) is the standard procedure for detecting prostatic cancer. Normally in its early stages this glandular cancer has no symptoms and is frequently discovered during a routine administration of the prostate specific antigen test. In more advanced cases the patient may have difficulty beginning to urinate, may experience frequent urination especially at night, and have difficulty achieving an erection with painful climax or ejaculation.
If the prostatic cancer has metastasized or spread the most common symptom is bone pain. Normally this pain is experienced in the vertebrae of the back, in the ribs, or in the pelvis. If compression of the spine results it is not uncommon for the patient to have a feeling of weakness in the legs and fecal incontinence.
Therapy options for prostatic cancer may include surgery (during which the prostate is removed) and radiation. Occasionally chemotherapy is used but hormone treatment is more likely. In hormonal therapy the cancer cells are denied access to dihydrotestosterone, a hormone produced in the prostate required by the cancer cells for growth.
"Watchful waiting" is also a standard option with regular monitoring because in many cases prostatic cancer is a slow moving disease. Many factors come into play in deciding how to treat prostatic cancer including the extent of the disease, the age of the patient, and his overall health condition.
As a leading killer of men of more than fifty years of age, prostatic cancer is a treatable but not "curable" glandular cancer. It is most often detected with a prostate specific antigen test. Although prostatic cancer begins with few symptoms, the most common symptoms as the disease progress are those effecting urination since the prostate gland wraps around a portion of the urethra leading to the bladder. Although the disease progresses slowly in some men, it should also be remembered that only lung cancer causes more death in men than prostatic cancer.