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Prostate Cancer

What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is cancer of the small, walnut-shaped gland in males that is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The tube that carries urine runs through the prostate and contains cells that develop the fluid that nourish and protect sperm. Prostate cancer affects 1 in 6 men making it the most common form of cancer in the United States.

What are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?

Because prostate cancer often develops slowly, many men do not notice any symptoms in the early stages of the cancer when it is easiest to treat and confined to the prostate. When signs and symptoms do occur, they vary based on the stage of the cancer and how far it has spread. Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer include

  • Urinary problems (trouble urinating, starting and stopping, decreased flow)
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Leg swelling and pelvic discomfort (often occurs if the cancer has spread to pelvic lymph nodes)
  • Consistent bone pain or fractures (often occurs if the cancer has spread to the bones)

Am I At Risk for Prostate Cancer?

Many factors determine a man’s risk for prostate cancer. They are:

  • Age – Risk increases over the age of 50.
  • Race – Statistics show that African American men have a greater risk of developing and dying from prostate cancer.
  • Family History – Risk increases if a father or brother have had the disease.
  • Diet – A high-fat diet and obesity increases the cancer risk.
  • High Testosterone Levels – Men who use testosterone therapy increase their risk of developing Prostate Cancer.

Who Should Be Screened for Prostate Cancer?

Men over the age of 50 should have a DRE and PSA blood test performed yearly by a licensed medical professional. If you have any of the risk factors mentioned above, you may want to begin your screenings earlier. We encourage you to discuss this with your doctor.

How is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?

Prostate Cancer is frequently diagnosed during routine screenings such as a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) and Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test.

A Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) feels for abnormalities on the prostate (both growths and enlargement). While it is not an entirely comfortable experience, it is one that takes a matter of seconds and saves lives.

Digital Rectal Examination

A Prostate-Specific Antigen blood test checks the level of prostate-specific antigen in the blood; elevated PSA levels can be a sign of cancer.

If the above tests raise any concerns, additional tests may be needed to determine if it is cancer and if so, the stage of the disease. These tests may include a transrectal ultrasound, bone scan, CT/MRI or a biopsy with a Gleason score. A Gleason score is determined by the pathologist and is used for staging.

How Can I Learn More?

You can learn more about prostate cancer screenings, risk and treatment options by talking to your doctor. If you do not have a primary care physician, call 502.589.3027 to find a physician near you.