The Basics of Prostate Cancer
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prostate cancer is a disease in which cells of the prostate grow out of control. The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system located just below the bladder. As men age, the prostate tends to increase in size potentially causing the urethra to narrow and decrease urine flow. As we observe Men’s Health Month this June it is pivotal to highlight prostate cancer considering that outside of skin cancer, it is the most common cancer in American men.
Who is at risk?
All men are at risk for prostate cancer, but the most common risk factor is age. The older a man is, the great his chance of getting prostate cancer. African American men and those who have a family history of prostate cancer have an increased risk of developing the disease. Overall, the CDC reports that 13 out of every 100 American men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime causing about 2 in every 3 men with the disease to die from it.
As with all cancers, early detection is the key to overcoming the disease. To ensure early detection, men ages 55-69 should be screened with a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test and understand the symptoms of prostate cancer. Symptoms may include the following, but may also be caused by other conditions:
- Difficulty starting urination.
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine.
- Frequent urination, especially at night.
- Difficulty emptying the bladder completely.
- Pain or burning during urination.
- Blood in the urine or semen.
- Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away.
- Painful ejaculation
Should a medical professional suspect cancer based on PSA score or other screening, a biopsy is done to diagnose cancer. During a biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed from the prostate and viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
If or when cancer is diagnosed, other tests are done to find out if the cancer cells have spread within the prostate or to other parts of the body. This is called staging. The stage of the cancer determines the course of treatment a physician will recommend. Potential treatment options for prostate cancer include:
- Active surveillance
- Radiation therapy
- Biological therapy
- High-intensity focused ultrasound
- Hormone therapy