What You Need to Know about Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the second most widely found type of cancer in men. Only skin cancer is more common. Many prostate cancers can be cured if treated early. Doctors do not know what causes prostate cancer or why some men get the disease.
Prostate Cancer 101
The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland in men that sits under the bladder. The urinary tube runs from the bladder, through the prostate and out, allowing men to pass urine.
As men age, the prostate begins to grow. That may cause problems in passing urine. It may be a normal sign of aging or a sign of a cancerous growth on the prostate. If you have any urinary symptoms or problems passing urine, it is important to see your doctor.
Most prostate cancers are slow-growing. Some stay inactive for years. Harsher forms of prostate cancer spread quickly. As with most cancers, prostate cancer that is not detected and treated early could spread throughout the body. Many prostate cancers are curable if treated early.
The most common risk factors for prostate cancer are:
- Age: Being over age 65 is a big risk factor. Prostate cancer is unusual in men under 45.
- Family History: If your father, grandfather, uncles or brothers have had prostate cancer, you have a greater chance of getting it.
- Race: African American men have a higher chance of getting prostate cancer than Caucasian and Hispanic men. The disease is even less common in men of American Indian and Asian ethnicities.
- Genetics: Some research shows that the makeup of a man's DNA may be linked to prostate cancer.
Having one or more risk factors for a disease does not mean that you will get that disease. But risk factors can help you and your doctor figure out whether you should be screened for prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer may not show any signs. But signs of possible prostate cancer may include:
- Problems in urination. That includes pain, weak flow, trouble starting or stopping and frequent urination.
- Blood in urine or semen
- Frequent pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
- Weight loss
Having these signs does not mean you have prostate cancer. They do show the need to visit your doctor for an exam.
Talk with Your Doctor
Be sure to check with your doctor to see if prostate cancer screening is right for you. If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, your doctor can provide information about treatment options and more.
Sources: National Cancer Institute
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