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What is Prostate Cancer?

Posted Nov 06 2008 11:40pm 1 Comment

Prostate cancer only affects men. It starts as a cancerous cell in or around the walnut-shaped prostate gland positioned below the urinary bladder and just in front of the rectum, adjacent to the urethra. The prostate’s main task is to create the seminal fluid needed by the sperm to produce the semen that is ejaculated through the act of sex. The gland is cardinal to every man, develops before birth, and expands as the man becomes older by the aid of androgen. For some, the prostate continues to expand in size creating a condition referred to as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), which applies pressure on the urethra causing difficulty during urination. BPH is not a type of cancer and should not be a cause of alarm.

Canadian men are more susceptible to prostate cancer, which normally grows at a snail’s pace. Besides prostate cancer, there are other forms of cancer that take place in the prostate gland including small cell carcinomas, sarcomas, and transitional cell carcinomas, although their occurrence is very rare. Prostate cancer grows and spreads very slowly. This was proven by a study which suggested that older men who died because of other health complications were also suffering from undiagnosed prostate cancer. Moreover, the study also proved that 70% to 90% of men suffer from prostate cancer by the time they reach 80 years old, but many doctors fail to discover it.

Most doctors believe prostate cancer starts with a pre-cancerous state known as Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia (PIN). Most men in their 20’s begin to develop PIN and by the time they reach 50 the problem is full blown. The prostate will appear abnormal under the microscope and be classified as a low-grade or high grade change. A low grade change is a normal condition while a high grade change is abnormal. Once a biopsy is performed and a high grade PIN is indicated, there is a high probability that prostate cancer may form or exists. Most doctors will ask the patient to undergo repeated biopsies.

Studies also point to a condition known as Atypical Small Acinar Proliferation, known as Atypia or ASAP, as another cause of cancer. Under a microscope the cells look cancerous although their numbers are too small to be certain. There is a 40% to 50% chance of prostate cancer when ASAP is present. Doctors will also direct the patient to obtain a repeat biopsy after a few months.

Copyright 2008 - Battle Prostate Cancer

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Last year in 2008 you wrote, "Prostate cancer only affects men." That's not strictly  true, as prostate cancer of men can greatly affect women. I've written about that in a few articles I've recently published in periodicals listed at

Of course I know you meant that only men get prostate cancer. I'm merely pointing out that some opening lines need to be a bit more precise! Other than that I enjoyed your fine article.

Ed Weinsberg

Rabbi Ed Weinsberg, Ed.D., D.D.

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