More than 240,000 new cases of prostate cancer are expected to be diagnosed this year in the United States. Aside from skin cancer, it is the most common cancer in American men. Statistics show that one in six men will be diagnosed in their lifetime.
For reasons not fully understood, African-American men have the highest frequency of prostate cancer in the world and the highest death rate from the disease. In other parts of the world we find that prostate cancer is rare, notably Asia, Africa, and Latin America. While we do not yet know what causes prostate there is ongoing research to try and determine the cause.
What Is Prostate Cancer?
The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system about the size of a walnut. It is located beneath the bladder and surrounds the upper part of the 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.
Prostate cancer is a major health concern for American men. Although the disease is rare before age 50, experts believe that most elderly men have at least traces of it. Most prostate cancers grow and spread slowly. Autopsy studies support this and demonstrated that many men who died of other causes also had prostate cancer that never affected them while they were living.
Prostate cancer cells do not follow normal patterns; they grow uncontrollably and spread to other tissues. Prostate cancer is typically a very slow growing tumor, often causing no symptoms until advanced stages. Once prostate cancer begins to grow more rapidly or spreads outside the prostate, it is dangerous. This aggressive type of prostate cancer can occur at any age. Although the disease tends to progress slowly, it is generally fatal if it spreads beyond the prostate gland itself.
Prostate cancer in its early stages (confined to the prostate gland) can be cured. Fortunately, about 85% of American men with prostate cancer are diagnosed in the early stages.
Cancer that has spread beyond the prostate to distant tissues (such as the bones, lymph nodes, and lungs) is not curable, but it often can be controlled for many years. Because of the many advances in available treatments, the majority of men whose prostate cancer becomes widespread can expect to live five years or more.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
There are no warning signs or symptoms of early prostate cancer. Once a malignant tumor causes the prostate gland to swell significantly, or once cancer spreads beyond the prostate, the following symptoms may be present:
These are not symptoms of the cancer itself. Instead, they are the symptoms of the blockage from the cancer growth within the prostate and surrounding tissues.
Symptoms of advanced prostate cancer include:
Next Steps with Prostate Cancer
Contact your physician if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
If you do not have a physician, contact our physician referral department at (561) 263-5737.