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What is Prostate Cancer?

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Prostate Cancer is when cancer starts in the prostate. Many men with prostate cancer die of other causes without ever having any symptoms from the cancer.

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Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in the United States, affecting 1 in 9 men.

In 2019, over 174,500 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the USA.

It is estimated that there are nearly 3 million U.S. men currently living with prostate cancer.

African American men are 56 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer compared with Caucasian men and nearly 2.5 times as likely to die from the disease.


What is the Prostate?

The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system and is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It produces fluid that makes up a part of semen.

Prostate Cancer Graph

What are the Risk Factors for
Prostate Cancer?

There are some risk factors that increase your chances of getting prostate cancer:


The older a man is, the greater his risk for getting prostate cancer.


Prostate cancer is more common in African-American men, tends to start at younger ages, and grow faster than in other racial or ethnic groups.

Family History

Certain genes, passed from parent to child, that you inherited from your parents may affect your prostate cancer risk. A man that has a father, brother, or son who has had prostate cancer is two to three times more likely to develop the disease himself.

What are the Symptoms of
Prostate Cancer?

Most men will not experience any symptoms, especially when the prostate cancer is caught at early stages. Some men do have symptoms for prostate cancer which might include:

  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Frequent urination (especially at night)
  • Difficulty emptying bladder completely
  • Pain in the back, hips or pelvis that doesn’t go away
If you have any symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away. Keep in mind that these symptoms may be caused by conditions other than prostate cancer.

What Screening Tests Are There for
Prostate Cancer?

Cancer screening means looking for cancer before it causes symptoms. However, most prostate cancers grow slowly or not at all.

Two tests are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer:


A doctor or nurse inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to estimate the size of the prostate and feel for lumps or other abnormalities.


Measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate.

Because many factors can affect PSA levels, your doctor is the best person to interpret your PSA test results. Only a biopsy can diagnose prostate cancer for sure.


How Is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?

If your prostate specific antigen (PSA) test or digital rectal exam (DRE) is abnormal, doctors may do more tests to find or diagnose prostate cancer. A biopsy is the main tool for diagnosing prostate cancer. A biopsy is when a small piece of tissue is removed from the prostate and looked at under a microscope to see if there are cancer cells.

Gleason Score

If there is cancer a Gleason score assigned. It indicates how likely it is to spread. The score ranges from 2 to 10. The lower the score, the less likely it is that the cancer will spread.


The staging of prostate cancer is important in choosing treatment options and predicting a man’s outlook for survival (prognosis). Staging is based on:

  • The prostate biopsy results (including the Gleason score)
  • The blood PSA level at the time of diagnosis
  • The results of any other exams or tests that were done to find out how far the cancer has spread

How Is Prostate Cancer Treated?

Men have different stages of prostate cancer and have different treatment options available to them:

Active Surveillance

Closely monitoring prostate cancer to determine if treatment is needed.


Procedure to remove the prostate called prostatectomy.


Use of high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. There are two types of radiation therapy:

External Radiation Therapy

A machine outside the body directs radiation at the cancer cells.

Internal Radiation Therapy (brachytherapy)

Radioactive seeds or pellets are surgically placed into or near the cancer to destroy the cancer cells.


Use of medications to fight cancer cells throughout the body.

Hormone Therapy

Lowering levels of hormones to help slow the growth of cancer.


Using special drugs to shrink or kill the cancer.


Medications that use the power of the immune system to target cancer cells.


Placing a special probe inside or near the prostate cancer to freeze and kill the cancer cells.


Works with your body’s immune system to help it fight cancer or to control side effects from other cancer treatments.

High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)

This therapy directs high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) at the cancer to kill cancer cells.


Medicines and health practices that are not standard cancer treatments.

Meditation, yoga, and supplements like vitamins and herbs are some examples. Many kinds of complementary and alternative medicine have not been tested scientifically and may not be safe. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits before you start any kind of complementary or alternative medicine.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Information about Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer Foundation
Understanding Prostate Cancer

Education & Support for Prostate Cancer Patients & their Caregivers

Online Prostate Cancer Discussion Forum and Community https://www.inspire.com/groups/us-too-prostate-cancer/

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