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Prostate Cancer – What Is It And How Can You Know If You Have It

Posted by Anna on April - 14 - 2013

Receiving the unfortunate news that you have contracted prostate cancer can be as emotionally devastating and paralyzing of an experience as any you may ever experience. Once your doctor mentions the dreaded ‘c’ word, you know you are about to embark on the biggest mental and physical battle of your life. However, initial diagnosis is not a death sentence, especially when cancer is located near the prostate. The essential information contained in this article will equip you with enough in-depth knowledge related to prostate cancer you’ll be able to apply successfully and hopefully be in remission in the near future.The first question most patients ask once a diagnosis has been made is: “What is prostate cancer?”

It’s a form of cancer that develops within the prostate, a gland located in the male reproductive system. This form of cancer is prevalent in male population who is, on average, above 50 years of age. Although it may not spread as fast and aggressively as other cancers (e.g. colon and lung cancer), it needs to be identified as soon as possible to prevent metastasizing (spreading) to other tissues, specifically lymph nodes and bone marrow. Diagnosis is usually reached through physical examination, existence of symptoms (such as difficulty and/or pain while urinating), biopsy or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.

Prostate cancer initiates subtle changes in the shape and size of the prostate gland. Prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) is a term coined to represent these microscopic changes of the prostate gland. Almost half of men are diagnosed with PIN by the time they are 50 years old. PIN is categorized into low-grade and high-grade. Low-grade PIN include normal changes identified during a biopsy that do not warrant further investigation and are treated as natural sign of aging.

However, a diagnosis of high-grade PIN means that there is between 20-30% possibility that cancer cells may have started spreading to other parts of the prostate. Identification of high-grade PIN raises a red flag for doctors and will monitor patients carefully, often advising them to undergo a second biopsy especially if the samples from the entire prostate have not been extracted for analysis.

Proliferative inflammatory atrophy (PIA) may be diagnosed after analyzing the results of the biopsy. While the prostate cells are smaller than normal in PIA, signs of inflammation around the prostate are still present. Although PIA is not a form of cancer, there is reason for medical researchers to believe that it may lead to the patient developing high-grade PIN or, if not detected soon enough, to prostate cancer.

Anson Burke is a regular contributor to Health92.com, where he blogs regularly about men’s health issues such as prostate health, prostate cancer and prostate supplements