An adenocarcinoma of the prostate, also referred to as prostate cancer, is a cancer that commonly develops on the prostate gland of older men. The prostate gland is a small organ located around the urethra, a tube-like structure where urine is passed out, and sits on top of the urinary bladder, the organ where urine is stored. Its main function is to produce fluid important in the nourishment as well as the transport of sperm during ejaculation.
Adenocarcinoma of the prostate usually starts when mutation or abnormality in the division and multiplication of cells within the prostate gland occurs. The major risk factor in the development of adenocarcinoma of the prostate is age. Men younger than 40 years old are rarely diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the prostate. Its incidence increases as men grow older. Other factors include history of prostate cancer in the family, smoking, exposure to hazardous chemicals, and obesity.
This type of cancer often grows slowly, thus, men with adenocarcinoma of the prostate usually do not present with specific symptoms during the early stage. As the cancer continues to become bigger, however, it compresses the surrounding tissues, resulting in urination problems. Affected men usually experience an urgent need to urinate, pain, or difficulty starting and stopping urine flow, and painful ejaculation. There is also the tendency of the cancer to spread to other distant sites, such as the lungs, bones, and liver. Some patients may manifest with bone pains, blood in the urine and semen, and erectile dysfunction.
Urologists, doctors who treat diseases associated with men's reproductive organs, and oncologists, doctors who treat cancer patients, are often the ones who manage patients with adenocarcinoma of the prostate. The urologist often performs a digital rectal examination to evaluate the size and consistency of the prostate. A blood test for the measurement of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the blood is also often requested. Abnormal or elevated levels of PSA usually indicate prostate problems.
A biopsy or removal of tissues from the prostate gland is also performed to help with the patient's diagnosis. If any sign of cancer is detected in the tissue, it is usually assigned a Gleason score, which indicates the aggressiveness of the cancer. The higher the Gleason score assigned, the more aggressive the cancer is.
Most cases of adenocarcinoma of the prostate are treatable when found in the early stage. The most common management for prostate cancer that has not spread to other sites is total prostatectomy, or the removal of the whole prostate gland. Radiation therapy is another procedure also done for prostate cancer patients. Other treatment options include hormone therapy and chemotherapy.