Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that begins in a man’s prostate—a small, nut-shaped gland below the bladder that produces some of the seminal fluid that is responsible for feeding and transporting sperm. Most cases of prostate cancer are slow-growing and remain contained to the prostate before detection, but some types are aggressive and spread quickly to other organs.
The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be nearly 218,000 new cases of prostate cancer and more than 32,000 prostate cancer-related deaths by the end of 2010.
Symptoms & Risk Factors
Symptoms of prostate cancer may not be present in the early stages, but common symptoms of its development include:
- blood in the urine or semen
- erectile dysfunction
- difficulty urinating
- decreased force in urine stream
- leg swelling
- pelvic discomfort
- bone pain
Age is the predominant factor in developing prostate cancer, which is rare in men under 45. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases after the age of 45, with two-thirds of most diagnoses occurring in men over the age of 65. Other risk factors include:
- Diminished health due to obesity and lack of exercise
Screening & Tests
The American Cancer Society (ACS) suggests that at age 55 men consult their doctors to find out if they should be screened for prostate cancer. This is mainly due to the lack of research to prove that the potential benefits of screening outweigh the harms of testing and treatment. The ACS recommends those at a higher risk of prostate cancer—such as African-American men or men with a family history of prostate cancer—should start talk to their doctors at age 45
The majority of prostate cancer cases are detected during routine screening. Screening tests include digital rectal exam and prostate-specific antigen test.