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The prostate gland is a part of the male reproductive system and is responsible for the production of the semen, which carries the sperms. The gland is located below the bladder. Most of the functions of the prostate gland are regulated by testosterone, a sex hormone, which is produced in the testicles. Hormones are considered responsible for the development of prostate cancer in males.

What is prostate cancer? Hormonal Factors and Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a major health problem in elderly adult males in the United States. Annually, 200,000 new cases are identified and about 30,000 deaths are attributed to the condition.

The condition has a gradual onset and progression, however, it is fatal if the cancer spreads to other tissues namely bones, lymphatic tissue, lungs, etc. The management of the condition depends upon early diagnosis and treatment and fortunately is diagnosed early in about 85% of the sufferers of the condition.

Age is one of the considerations for the development of prostate cancer. Its incidence is higher in men above the age of 65 years. Family history and genetics play a crucial role in the onset of the disease. However, experts believe that increased consumption of fat, especially in the form of red meat or other animal sources, is a major risk factor. Fat tends to stimulate the production of testosterone and other hormones, which is considered responsible for the development of the condition. Elevated levels of testosterone tend to stimulate the growth of cancer cells in the prostate.

Other risk factors include occupational hazard among battery manufacturers, rubber workers and welders who are exposed to cadmium (a heavy metal). In addition, certain drugs including statins, aspirin, finasteride, and other anti inflammatory drugs have also been associated with increased risk of prostate cancer.

Hormone Treatment for the management of Prostate Cancer:

The treatment for prostate cancer is referred to as Androgen Deprivation Therapy or Androgen Suppression Therapy, which attempts to block or add hormones meant for the treatment of prostate cancer. The basic premise of this therapy is that testosterone and other related hormones, stimulate the growth of cancer cells and the objective of the therapy is to restrict the production of these hormones.

Hormonal treatment includes the use of injections or pills for the management of the condition. The therapy involves the use of estrogen, which works towards countering the effects of testosterone. Further, the therapy also includes the use of certain drugs like, anti-androgen agents, Lutenizing hormone releasing hormone analogs which block the production of testosterone and other androgens.

Finally, the surgical removal of the testicles, which produce the sex hormone, testosterone is necessary to prevent further stimulation of the cancer cells.

The use of hormonal therapy is indicated in individuals, when the prostate cancer spreads beyond the prostate. It may be used in concordance with surgical removal of the testicles to provide better benefits.

Managing and Preventing Prostate Cancer:

Dietary factors interplay with hormonal factors to cause the disease condition. It is recommended that the intake of meat, red meat, animal fats, etc should be kept minimal. Instead, increase the intake of soybeans, pulses, cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, which are rich in proteins and contain several anti oxidants that help fight the free radicals and cancer causing agents.

Regular clinical evaluation plays a crucial role in early detection, especially among individuals about the age of 50 with a family history of the condition.