Male Reproductive Disorder: Prostate Cancer

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  • 0:01 The Prostate Gland
  • 0:39 Prostate Cancer,…
  • 1:58 Cancer Screening,…
  • 3:34 Treatment Options for…
  • 5:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in American men. Thus, it's a serious matter! Find out what the risk factors are, how and when to screen for it, and how it's diagnosed, graded, and treated in this lesson.

The Prostate Gland

Externally, it's kind of easy to tell the differences between a man and a woman thanks to the unspeakable regions below. But internally, men and women are very different as well. Men have a gland, called the prostate gland, that women do not. Yes, guys are special in that way. If you were curious, the prostate gland is a gland that produces seminal fluid that men ejaculate during orgasm. This gland is lamentably susceptible to a bunch of problems ranging from infections to cancer. The latter will be this lesson's topic.

Prostate Cancer, Risks, & Statistics

Like just about every place in your body, the prostate gland is not immune to cancer, uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells in the body. Those cells used to be normal, but like some people sort of go a bit crazy with age, some cells in our body go permanently crazy and begin to multiply and destroy our body. Actually, as with many cancers, old age is a risk factor for the development of prostate cancer. It is most common in men over the age of 65. There are other risk factors, however, including:

  • Having a family history of prostate or breast cancer
  • African ancestry
  • Eating too much red meat and not enough vegetables and fruits - people on the Atkins diet may not be all too happy to hear this.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, right after skin cancer, and is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in men, just below that of lung cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that over 230,000 men will be diagnosed with this terrible disease and almost 30,000 will die from it in 2014. One man out of every seven will be diagnosed with prostate cancer sometime in their lifetime and one in 36 will die from it.

Cancer Screening, Signs, & Symptoms

Those stats should have been enough to convince you that screening for prostate cancer is important. Screening is monitoring and testing for signs of a disease prior to it causing symptoms in a person. Screening is like periodically going out into the backyard and weeding it before the dandelions appear. Basically, we're trying to catch cancer ASAP so we can more easily treat it and improve a person's chances of survival.

There are two important ways men can screen for cancer. One is by way of a blood test that looks for elevations in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) to clue a doctor into the possibility of prostate cancer development. PSA is like a wave hello from someone across the street. But it's not infallible. For just like that person may be waving at someone behind you instead of you, PSA can give false positive results.

The other screening measurement is the dreaded rectal examination your doctor can perform - you know, the one that begins with the dreaded snap of a latex glove. Despite that dreaded noise, men with risk factors for prostate cancer may want to begin screening procedures at age 40; other men may wait until age 50. Again, screening is very important because during the early stages of disease no symptoms may occur. With time, signs and symptoms such as these might be attributed to prostate cancer:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Lower back, hip, or thigh pain
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Discomfort in the pelvic region

Treatment Options for Prostate Cancer

Although the digital rectal exam and prostate-specific antigen may point to the possibility of prostate cancer, the only way to be sure of it is by taking a small sample of prostatic tissue in a procedure called a biopsy. It's sort of like going out into the yard on your weekly watch for weeds, pulling a weed out, and then sending it to a botanist to analyze it to see if it's a dangerous weed or not - except here we use a needle to pull some tissues and cells out, and we send it all to a pathologist to determine if it's dangerous or not.

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