How much do you know about prostate cancer? Here’s a low-down on the 3rd most frequent cancer affecting Singaporean men, based on statistics from the National Cancer Centre, Singapore.
What Is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer occurs when malignant cells grow in a man’s prostate, which is a gland in the reproductive system. In fact, 1 out of 6 men will likely receive a prostate cancer diagnosis sometime in their lives. And as far as cancers go, it’s also the second highest killer for men as well: It is estimated that in 2010, 217,730 men will be diagnosed with the disease and 32,050 men will die of it.
The bad news: Prostate cancer is common. The good news: It’s also preventable. If you catch prostate cancer early enough—a.k.a., before the cancer cells spread past your prostate—your chance of surviving the next 5 years is 100 percent. Read on to see how you can take steps to prevent it, what causes it, and how you can treat it.
What Is The Prostate?
Your prostate is a walnut-sized gland tucked away under your bladder and in front of your rectum. It’s the part of your reproductive system that propels the semen out of your body.
First, the sperm swim up from the testicles to another gland called the seminal vesicle. There, the sperm become mixed with amino acids, enzymes, and sugar before continuing along to the prostate, which also adds some enzymes and zinc. Then, the prostate helps carry the semen out of the body.
How Do You Get It?
Around age 40, your prostate starts to troubleshoot. Androgens, male hormones produced in the testicles, cause the gland to grow. This growth isn’t always a cancer diagnosis, though: Sometimes, your prostate cells swell and it just pushes on your urethra—the tube that carries the urine out of your body from the bladder.
On the other hand, sometimes the cells in your prostate grow uncontrollably because you have cancer. Under normal conditions, the cells in your body are constantly growing, dividing, and dying. But when you have cancer, the cells grow uncontrollably and they don’t die—this forms a mass of tissue called a tumor.
Usually, the tumor stays in your prostate—mainly because it’s often detected early—but it’s possible for these cancerous cells to spread to your blood vessels and attach to other tissues. When this happens, the cancer has metastasized.
How Old Are You?
This is the main risk factor for prostate cancer. About 65 percent of men who develop the disease are over the age of 65. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get it earlier, however: There’s a very small chance that you’ll acquire prostate cancer under the age of 40—the odds are estimated to be as low as 1 in 10,000. But for men who fall in the 40-59 age range, the odds have suddenly shot up to 1 in 39. As for the men who are 60-69 years old, the likelihood that you’ll be diagnosed with the disease is 1 in 14.
Do You Have A Family History Of The Disease?
Your risk is higher than average if your father, brother or son has also received a prostate cancer diagnosis sometime in their lives.
What Is Your Ethnicity?
Based on a larger pool of data taken from the National Cancer Institute in America, African Americans are especially at risk—compared with Caucasian men, they are not only approximately 60 percent more likely to develop the disease, but they are also around 2.5 times more likely to die from it. On the other hand, Asian Americans have the lowest rates. Hispanics, like Caucasians, have a moderate risk, compared to other races.
Finally, understand what are the warning signs for cancers that strike men.