Monday, May 11, 2009

Prostate Cancer Risk Factors

All men are at risk for developing prostate cancer. About one man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, but only one man in 34 will die of this disease. About 80 percent of men who reach age 80 have prostate cancer. Besides being male, there are other factors, such as age, race, and family history that may contribute to the risk. These include:

Age. The greatest risk factor for prostate cancer is age. This risk increases significantly after the age of 50 in white men who have no family history of the disease and after the age of 40 in black men and men who have a close relative with prostate cancer. About two-thirds of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men age 65 and older.

Family history: Men whose relatives have had prostate cancer are considered to be at high risk. Having a father or brother with the disease more than doubles your risk for prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Having a brother with prostate cancer appears to increase your risk more than having an affected father does. That risk is even higher when there are multiple family members affected. Screening for prostate cancer should be started at age 40 in these men.

Studies have identified several inherited genes that appear to increase prostate cancer risk. Testing for these genes is not yet available. Experts estimate that the hereditary form of prostate cancer accounts for just 5-10% of all cases.

Race: Prostate cancer occurs about 60% more often in African American men than in white American men and when diagnosed is more likely to be advanced. However, Japanese and African males living in their native countries have a low incidence of prostate cancer. Rates for these groups increase sharply when they immigrate to the U.S. African Americans are the second group of men for whom prostate cancer testing should begin at age 40.

Some experts theorize that this suggests an environmental connection, possibly related to high-fat diets, less exposure to the sun, exposure to heavy metals such as cadmium, infectious agents, or smoking. To date, the reasons for these racial differences are not understood.

Diet: Research also suggests high dietary fat may be a contributing factor prostate cancer. The disease is much more common in countries where meat and dairy products are dietary staples, compared to countries where the basic diet consists of rice, soybean products, and vegetables.

Eating a diet high in the antioxidant lycopene (found in high levels in some fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and watermelon) may lower your risk of developing prostate cancer according to several studies.

What Are Other Possible Risk Factors?

Sedentary lifestyle: You may be able to reduce your risk for prostate cancer by getting regular exercise and maintaining your optimal weight.



Stages of Prostate Cancer

Like other forms of cancer, the prognosis for prostate cancer depends on how far the cancer has spread at the time it’s diagnosed. Doctors use a system of classification called staging to describe prostate cancer’s spread.

Prostate cancer stages can be complex and difficult to understand. WebMD takes a look at prostate cancer stages and what they mean to you.

Prostate Cancer Stages: Growth and Spread

Prostate cancer grows locally within the prostate, often for many years. Eventually, prostate cancer extends outside the prostate. Prostate cancer can spread beyond the prostate in three ways:

* By growing into neighboring tissues (invasion)
* By spreading through the lymph system of lymph nodes and lymph vessels
* By traveling to distant tissues through the blood (metastasis)

Prostate cancer stages describe the precise extent of prostate cancer’s spread.
Tests to Identify Prostate Cancer Stage

After a prostate cancer diagnosis, tests are done to detect how the cancer has spread, if it has, outside the prostate. Not all men need every test. It depends on the characteristics of a man’s prostate cancer, seen on biopsy. Tests to help determine the stage of prostate cancer include:

* Digital rectal exam (the infamous gloved finger)
* Prostate-specific antigen (blood test)
* Transrectal ultrasound
* MRI of the prostate using a rectal probe
* CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis, looking for prostate cancer metastasis to other organs
* MRI of the skeleton, or a nuclear medicine bone scan, to look for metastasis to bones
* Surgery to examine the lymph nodes in the pelvis for any prostate cancer spread

The TNM System for Prostate Cancer Stages

As they do for most cancers, doctors use the TNM system of prostate cancer stages. The prostate cancer stages are described using three different aspects of tumor growth and spread. It’s called the TNM system for tumor, nodes, and metastasis:

* T -- for tumor -- describes the size of the main area of prostate cancer.
* N -- for nodes -- describes whether prostate cancer has spread to any lymph nodes and to what extent.
* M -- for metastasis -- means distant spread of prostate cancer, for example, to the bones or liver.

There are other ways of classifying prostate cancer, such as the Gleason system. Sometimes, the TNM system and Gleason score are combined together to describe prostate cancer stage.

Prostate Cancer Stage I

In stage I, prostate cancer is found in the prostate only. Stage I prostate cancer is microscopic; it can’t be felt on a digital rectal exam (DRE), and it isn’t seen on imaging of the prostate.

Prostate Cancer Stage II

In stage II, the tumor has grown inside the prostate but hasn’t extended beyond it.

Prostate Cancer Stage III

Stage III prostate cancer has spread outside the prostate, but only barely. Prostate cancer in stage III may involve nearby tissues, like the seminal vesicles.

Prostate Cancer Stage IV

In stage IV, the cancer has spread (metastasized) outside the prostate to other tissues. Stage IV prostate cancer commonly spreads to lymph nodes, the bones, liver, or lungs.

Accurately identifying the prostate cancer stage is extremely important. Prostate cancer stage helps determine the optimal treatment, as well as prognosis. For this reason, it’s worth going through extensive testing to get the correct prostate cancer stage.

1 comments:

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