Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. It occurs in the prostate- a small walnut-shaped gland that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Prostate cancer usually grows slowly and initially remains confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, once it begins to grow quickly and spreads outside the prostate, it is dangerous.
In its early stages, prostate cancer can be treated with very good chances for survival. Fortunately, approximately 85% of American men with prostate cancer are diagnosed in an early stage of the disease.
In its early stages, prostate cancer may not cause symptoms. More advanced prostate cancer my have the following symptoms:
Decreased force in the stream of urine
Blood in the urine
Blood in the semen
General pain in the lower back, hips or thighs
Discomfort in the pelvic area
While doctors don’t know what causes prostate cancer, the following can increase the risk of developing prostate cancer:
Being African-American or a Caribbean men of African ancestry
Family history of prostate or breast cancer
Diets rich with meat and dairy products
Call your doctor about prostate cancer if you experience
Trouble urinating or painful urination
Chronic pain in your lower back, pelvis, upper thighbones or other bones
Unexplained weight loss
Swelling in your legs
Weakness in your legs or difficulty walking
Two initial tests commonly used to look for prostate cancer in the absence of symptoms are:
A digital rectal exam (DRE) where the doctor feels the prostate through the rectum to find hard or lumpy areas known as nodules.
A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test in which a blood sample is drawn to detect if high than normal levels of PSA (a substance naturally produced by your prostate) is present.
If an abnormality is detected on a DRE or PSA test, your doctor may recommend tests to determine whether you have prostate cancer including: