Prostate Cancer: a complete guide

Prostate Cancer: a complete guide

In this guide we will explain what prostate cancer is, its symptoms, treatments and the alternatives to combat prostate cancer.

What is prostate cancer?

The prostate is a sex gland the size of a nut that is behind the base of the penis, in front of the rectum and below the bladder. It surrounds the urethra (which transports urine and semen) and is responsible for producing seminal liquid (the liquid that protects, maintains and transports sperm).

Prostate cancer originates when the healthy cells change and spread uncontrollably, forming a tumor. Generally, prostate cancer grows slowly and is more common in older men.

Types of prostate cancer

The tumor can grow in three different ways:

·         Local growth: produced by tumor growth and the invasion of the prostatic capsule. The tumor can grow to the point where it breaks this capsule and invades the tissues and periprostatic organs. The invasion of the bladder or the rectum happens in the later stages.

·         Lymphatic dissemination: there is a clear relationship between the size of the primitive tumor and the chance of the lymph nodes being affected.

·         Hematogenous dissemination: this dissemination is carried out through the blood vessels, usually towards the bone.


The main signs and symptoms of a tumor present in the prostate may include:

·         Urgent urination: you feel a sudden urge to urinate that you cannot control. This may also present itself as involuntary urine leakage.

·         You urinate more often: frequent urination during the day and at night.

·         Dysuria: it hurts and burns when you urinate.

·         Delay at the beginning of urination: accompanied by a weaker or intermittent flow.

·         Urinary retention: sometimes the urethra is obstructed by the tumor and causes this retention.

·         Post void dribbling: dripping continues after urinating.

·         Feeling of incomplete emptying: although you have just urinated, you feel that your bladder is still full.

·         Breast growth or pain: although this is quite rare in men, sometimes this occurs when the tumor causes the breasts to increase in size or makes them painful.

In the initial stages, it is very likely that the cancer is asymptomatic, therefore, it is always better to prevent it.


Every case is different, therefore determining the exact cause is very difficult. Here, we present to you four possible causes of prostate cancer:

1. Genetic factors

Some genetic factors may account for prostate cancer. However, it is difficult to separate these factors from environmental factors.

2. Hormonal factors

Some studies have suggested that hormonal factors may play an important role in the development of prostate cancer.

3. Environmental factors

Various environmental factors have been identified that could promote prostate cancer, such as: diets high in animal fats, exposure to smoke from the exhaust pipe of cars, air pollution, cadmium, fertilizers and chemical substances in the rubber, printing, painting and maritime industries.  

4. Infectious agents

Some are of the opinion that sexually transmitted infectious agents could cause prostate cancer, however, the epidemiological, virological and immunological studies have presented contradictory results.

Risk factors

Although no exact cause has been identified, there are certain factors that increase the risk of suffering from prostate cancer. Men over the age of 50, who are black and/or have a family history of this cancer or unhealthy food habits, have a greater risk of suffering from prostate cancer.


The idea is to detect the cancer before symptoms appear, as in, at an early stage, increasing the patient’s chances of receiving effective treatment. Two different tests are used to detect prostate cancer:

·         Digital rectal examination (DRE): During this test, the doctor puts on lubricated gloves and inserts a finger into the patient’s rectum, and feels the surface of the prostate through the intestinal wall to detect any irregularities.

·         PSA Blood test. The PSA test is useful for detecting prostate cancer in the early stages, especially in men with many risk factors, and may help some men receive the necessary treatment before the cancer spreads. Talk to your doctor about whether you require this test.

Diagnosis and exams

After the detection tests, three different exams may be carried out to determine more precisely the prostate cancer:

·         Urine test: the doctor determines whether there are any signs of abnormality, such as an infection, hyperplasia (enlargement) of the prostate or tumor markers.

·         Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS): sound waves are used to create an image of the prostate in order to detect small tumors.

·         Prostate biopsy: this test confirms the presence of prostate cancer. A tissue sample is taken (biopsy) so that part of the cellular tissue can be analyzed.


Since this type of cancer develops slowly, treatment is usually carried out over a long period of time. However, if this cancer is detected in the first phase (meaning it is only found in the prostate), it can be treated effectively and the patient may have a long life expectancy.

Treatment for prostate cancer depends on various factors, such as the stage of the cancer, the size of the tumor, and the age and general health of the patient. There are three different types of procedures for removing or reducing the prostate cancer.

1. Surgery

Surgery (known as radical prostatectomy), consists of removing the entire prostate gland, the surrounding tissues and, when necessary, the lymph nodes in the pelvic area. There are two ways of carrying out a radical prostatectomy:

  • Retropubic prostatectomy: the prostate is removed through an incision in the abdomen.
  • Perineal prostatectomy: removal is carried out through an incision in the area between the scrotum and the anus.

2. Radiotherapy

Cancer cells are destroyed by means of radiation. This may be combined with surgery, either as a preparation for the removal of affected tissue, or after the procedure to eliminate any remaining cancer cells. There are two methods of radiotherapy:

  • Internal treatment: a small container of radioactive material is implanted that may be temporary or permanent, which does not leave any trace of radioactive material inside the body upon being extracted.
  • External treatment: radiation is directed towards the pelvic area, through external machines. This procedure is carried out over the course of 6 weeks (5 days a week).

3. Hormone therapy

Prostate cancer and the progression of the tumor may be linked with the testosterone action (the male sex hormone). Hormone treatment seeks to control the levels of testosterone in the body, or block its effect on the prostate.

Complementary treatments

These therapies go alongside conventional treatments. Each case and each patient are different, so there is no one definitive treatment that will work for everyone. However, we have put together a list of options that you may wish to try:

Healthy habits


Follow a balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables. This will help you feel better inside and out.


Physical activity is recommended for your general wellbeing, but is even more important when you are facing cancer. Exercising will improve blood flow and make the metabolism work more efficiently.


Cannabinoids reduce general discomfort, since they help reduce nausea and vomiting, stimulate appetite and relieve pain that may be caused by some chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.

Together with conventional treatments, cannabinoids can promote the death of tumor cells, reducing their potential to spread and metastasize.

*Always check to see if it is legal in your jurisdiction before obtaining any cannabis-based product.

Black Cohosh

This plant (Cimicifuga racemosa or Actaea racemosa) contains certain substances (glucosides triterpenes, saponins and flavonoids) that help regulate estrogen and androgens.

These components have an antiproliferative effect on tumor cells and trigger cellular apoptosis, or the programmed cellular death of cancer cells, both in the breast and the prostate, due to the activation of proteins involved in apoptosis.

Coping and support strategies

If you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, we are here to offer you some alternative ways to deal with this news. We understand that a cancer diagnosis can represent a huge emotional challenge and that each person has a different way of handling this situation, but if you are still trying to find the best way to deal with your diagnosis, you may wish to try the following options:

Get to know your cancer, and yourself

The more informed you are about cancer, the easier it will be for you to make decisions regarding suitable treatment. Don’t feel scared or embarrassed to ask your doctor, or do your own research. If you would like to know more about cancer, you can visit our complete article here.

It is also important to take some time for yourself. Focus on yourself, feel every part of your body, get to know yourself; a bit of self-reflection may help you deal with your cancer.

Surround yourself with friends and family

Talking to someone that supports you and understands you is always important. By confiding in a loved one, you will be able to deal with your cancer knowing that you are supported, and this makes a huge difference. Your wellbeing starts with how you feel.

Find someone to talk to

Find someone who is ready to listen to you and talk to you about your hopes and fears. If you prefer, you could talk to a therapist, doctor or someone from a support group. It helps to express your doubts and thoughts, to feel heard and not keep your fears to yourself.

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