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More than 230,000 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year, making prostate cancer the second most common cancer among American men. Located just under the bladder and in front of the rectum, the prostate gland produces a fluid that protects and enriches sperm. When cells in the prostate reproduce more rapidly than normal, cancerous growths and tumors can form. In the earliest stages of the disease, symptoms of prostate cancer may not be apparent except through a medical exam noticeable signs may be related to noncancerous prostate conditions.
If you think you are at risk for prostate cancer and are 50 or older, put your mind at ease by contacting your medical provider and getting checked.
Beginning at age 50, men should make an informed decision with their doctor about whether to be tested for prostate cancer.
American Cancer Society
The prostate gland looks like a small doughnut wrapped around the urethra. Because of its location, changes in the shape and size of prostate can affect urinary function. One of the most common signs that abnormal growths may be developing in the prostate is difficulty with urination, especially starting urination.
Abnormal growths in the prostate can press against the bladder, leading to the need to urinate more frequently, especially at night. But be aware that nocturia, or waking at night to urinate, may be caused by other prostate issues, including benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate. It can also be a sign of diabetes.
If you regularly consume fluids but your urine flow is weak or disrupted, it can be a sign of growth in your prostate.
If abnormal or extra growths in the prostate press on the urethra, it may produce a burning sensation during urination. But those also are common signs of urinary tract infections and other urinary health issues.
Some men may notice blood in their urine or semen. While it can be a sign of prostate cancer, blood in the urine can also be a sign of prostatitis, an inflammation or infection of the prostate that is often treated with antibiotics.
Because secretions from the prostate gland are included in semen, prostate cancer can also cause noticeable problems with sexual function and performance, including difficulty achieving erection or painful erections.
Pain or Stiffness in the Lower Back, Hips or Upper Thighs
In previously undetected or advanced cases of prostate cancer, cancer cells can spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, possibly causing additional symptoms, including bone pain, often in the vertebrae, pelvis and femur. Chronic pain or stiffness in these areas should be reported to a health care provider.
Researchers have identified several factors that can put men at increased risk for prostate cancer. The single highest risk factor for prostate cancer? Age. Recent statistics show that as many as 6 in 10 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in men 65 and older.
African-American men and Caribbean men of African ancestry more likely than men of other races or ethic groups to develop prostate cancer. Geography seems to matter, too. Prostate cancer rates are highest in North America, Europe, Australia and the Caribbean islands. Have a family history? Men with a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer may be at doubled risk of developing the disease.
Detection and Treatment
Prostate cancer is typically detected through one of the two testing methods. When men first have their prostate checked, most will have a digital rectal examination. A doctor will insert a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to manually check for abnormal growths and enlargement of the prostate. If there's an issue, your doctor may order a biopsy. The other common method of detection is a blood test that measures prostate specific antigen, or PSA, a substance made by the prostate. Higher levels of PSA in the bloodstream can indicate prostate cancer or other conditions that affect the prostate.
Once the disease is diagnosed, a number of treatment options are available, depending on the stage of cancer detected and your personal medical factors. Treatment options include expectant management, or вЂњwatchful waiting," surgery, radiation, cryotherapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, vaccine treatment and bone-directed treatment.