How Far Has Science Come in Understanding the Causes of Prostate Cancer?
The study of prostate cancer has come a long way since its identification in 1853. Information concerning diagnostic methods, treatment options and even the pathophysiological characteristics of this condition has been provided in useful details by researchers, but the specific causes of prostate cancer remain unknown up to this day.
The causes of prostate cancer, or any other type of cancer for that matter, have remained a mystery to those who are studying the disease. Despite being able to explain the process by which cancer of the prostate develops, the exact reasons behind the condition's occurrence remains a challenge to cancer researchers.
Cancer of the prostate is a condition that affects only men. The prostate gland, which is part of the male reproductive system, helps make and store seminal fluid. It surrounds part of the urethra and is located under the urinary bladder and in front of the rectum. Its position allows it to influence the processes of urination, ejaculation and defecation.
Although the causes of cancer of the prostate have yet to be fully understood, scientists were able to identify some of the factors associated with the risk of developing this condition. A man's chances of developing prostate cancer are affected by his age, genes, race, diet, lifestyle and the medications that he is taking. Cancer of the prostate is quite uncommon in men aged below 45. However, the chances of developing prostate cancer increase as a man ages. Based on statistics collected on prostate cancer patients, 70 is the average age of diagnosis.
Prostate cancer is a slow developing condition. Some men who have it never even knew that they had the condition and they could die of other causes before their cancer manifests itself. But a man who has a first degree relative, like a brother or a father, who has been diagnosed with this condition is believable to have a higher chance of developing prostate cancer, particularly if the relative was diagnosed at an early age.
Among the races, African Americans have been known to account for the highest percentage of diagnosed cases of prostate cancer. Asians, on the other hand, recorded the least number of diagnosed cases. Researchers speculate that this might be due to the difference between the diet and lifestyle of Western and Asian men. Westerners usually take in more red meat while Asians are more likely to eat vegetables and fruits. Men who have higher levels of the short chain fatty acid linolenic acid have also been found to have higher rates of cancer in the prostate. Other dietary factors that have been implicated in the development of prostate cancer include low intake of elements such as vitamin E, lycopene, omega-3 fatty acids and selenium.
In terms of genetics, no single gene has yet to be proved to be responsible for the development of prostate cancer, although BRCA1 and BRCA2, both risk factors for ovarian cancer and breast cancer in women, have been implicated.
Although the causes of prostate cancer have not yet been fully identified, there is high hope that the exact process that governs this disease will eventually be understood and prevention methods will be developed to lessen the number of men suffering from this condition.