Prostate cancer is a disease that generally that progresses at a fairly slow pace. quite slowly and, when detected early, is highly curable. Through research and early treatment, as well as more effective methods, the survival rate for prostate cancer is 100% five years after the date of diagnosis if there is no spread elsewhere in the body. Hence the importance of screening for mature men.
Nowadays, advanced techniques are used to produce an extremely accurate diagnosis. In addition, new and more effective means of treatment make it possible to halt or slow the progression of the disease. In most cases, the prognosis is encouraging.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. It is sometimes indolent, sometimes fatal and it causes little or no symptoms at first. Its incidence has increased by 30% since 1988. Although it strikes on average around the age of 67, it can affect men in their forties or fifties. In Quebec, twelve (12) men are diagnosed daily.
Although the incidence of prostate cancer continues to increase, the latest advances in treatment have reduced the risk of death. Indeed, considerable progress has been made in terms of minimally invasive surgeries or specific radiation therapies to treat certain forms of prostate cancer, which in turn has reduced the risk of complications and allow for a faster recovery.
The exact causes of prostate cancer remain largely unknown. However, research has highlighted some risk factors.
Facts and figures
Generally speaking, cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. It can affect any type of cell in an organ, a gland, muscle tissue, blood or the lymphatic system.
Under normal conditions, the cells in our bodies contain all the information they need for their development, function, reproduc¬tion and death. Usually, our cells do their work properly and we remain healthy. However, sometimes a few of the cells do not behave normally and begin multiplying uncontrollably, eventually forming a group of abnormal cells. After a while, this group forms a detectable lump known as a tumour.
Over time, the malignant cells in cancerous tumours can invade neighbouring tissue or organs. They may even spread to the rest of the body through the blood or lymphatic system. This stage is known as “metastasis.”
In the case of prostate cancer, the secretory cells are usually the ones that become cancerous. Once the cancer has been diagnosed, treatment is determined depending on the stage of the disease and the overall health of the patient
Types of prostate cancer
In theory, there are two types of prostate cancer: slow-growing and aggressive. In reality, most cases are somewhere between the two, growing at a moderate rate. For the moment, science does not have the tools to predict the growth rate of a person’s cancer once it has been diagnosed.
About 14 percent of Canadians suffer from “clinical” prostate cancer, meaning their disease has been detected by a doctor and officially diagnosed. However, studies of autopsy reports have shown that another 30 percent of men have latent cancer, meaning the cancerous cells lie dormant in the prostate. Although present, the cancer does no harm because it does not attack the body. Not all men develop latent prostate cancer, but the probability of doing so increases with age.
According to the current state of knowledge, prostate cancer is one of the few cancers that can remain in latent form for such a long period of time. Researchers are trying to understand why some cancers remain latent while others develop into full-blown diseases. While it is generally believed that risk factors and genes play an important role in the development of clinically significant cancer, the precise mechanism is still unknown.