Note: The information on cancer types on the ACRF website is not designed to provide medical or professional advice and is for information only. If you have any health problems or questions please consult your doctor.
Prostate cancer develops in the walnut-sized prostate gland that makes and stores seminal fluid, a milky liquid that nourishes sperm.
The prostate gland helps regulate bladder control and normal sexual functioning. Prostate cancer develops when the cells in the prostate gland grow more quickly than they should, forming a malignant lump or tumour. Most prostate cancers grow slowly in comparison to other cancers and while the causes are unknown, fatty acids are believed to play a role.
The chance of developing prostate cancer increases with age, and if your father or brother have had the disease.
Occurring mainly in men over 65, and rarely in those under 50, prostate cancer affects more Australian men than any other.
Prostate cancer treatment
While some prostate cancers are extremely aggressive and need to be treated, others grow slowly.
If a patient’s prostate cancer is slow growing, it may not require immediate treatment and an active surveillance approach may be taken. This option could be taken if a patient is over 70, as the cancer is unlikely to develop quickly enough to cause a problem in his lifetime, or if treatment side effects would impact greatly on quality of life. Patients under 70 may opt for treatment at a later stage if the cancer grows.
Surgery is an option if a patient has early-stage prostate cancer, is fit for surgery, expects to live for longer than 10 years and has not yet had radiotherapy. The surgeon generally removes the prostate in a radical prostatectomy procedure, as well as surrounding tissue. A sample of the lymph nodes in nearby tissue may be taken to determine whether the cancer has spread.
Prostate cancer needs the male hormone, testosterone, to grow and by slowing its production through hormone treatment, the cancer can be slowed. Hormone treatment involves injections of luteinising hormone-releasing hormone, which cannot cure the cancer.
Several kinds of radiotherapy, which allow high doses with minimum affects on nearby tissues, can be used to treat prostrate cancer.
If the cancer cannot be cured, palliative treatments for pain and other problems may involve radiotherapy, chemotherapy and pain-relieving medications.