Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer statistics

The fear of having prostate cancer can be devastating to men. However, it is most successfully treated when found early. Consider these statistics from the American Cancer Society (ACS):

Illustration of  the anatomy of the male reproductive tract
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Facts about the prostate gland

The prostate is a sex gland in men. It is about the size of a walnut, although it can grow larger, and surrounds the neck of the bladder and urethra—the tube that carries urine from the bladder. It is partly muscular and partly glandular, with ducts opening into the prostatic portion of the urethra. It is made up of three lobes: a center lobe with one lobe on each side.

The prostate gland secretes a slightly alkaline fluid that forms part of the seminal fluid, a fluid that carries sperm.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

There are usually no specific signs or symptoms of early prostate cancer. A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) can provide the best chance of identifying prostate cancer in its earliest stages, but these tests can have drawbacks. Talk to your doctor about whether prostate cancer screening is right for you.

The following are the most common symptoms of prostate cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of prostate cancer may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

As a man gets older, his prostate may grow bigger and obstruct the flow of urine, or interfere with sexual function. An enlarged prostate gland—a condition called benign prostate hyperplasia— may require treatment with medicine or surgery to relieve symptoms. This common benign prostate condition, which is not cancer, can cause many of the same symptoms as prostate cancer.

What are risk factors for prostate cancer?

In general, all men are at risk for prostate cancer. However, there are specific risk factors that increase the likelihood that certain men will develop the disease, including the following:

Procedures used to evaluate prostate problems

In addition to regular physical examinations that may include blood, urine, and possibly other laboratory tests, many groups, such as the American Cancer Society, suggest talking to your doctor to learn more about the pros and cons of screening for prostate cancer to help you decide if it is right for you. Other expert groups have different recommendations. For example, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against routine prostate cancer screening because the task force believes the benefit does not outweigh the harm. The tests used for screening include:

What are some other prostate cancer evaluation procedures?

If the DRE or PSA results are unusual, your doctor may repeat the tests or request other procedures. These evaluation tools may include:

The diagnosis of cancer is confirmed only by a biopsy.

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