Prostate cancer begins in the prostate gland in a man's reproductive system.
The exact causes of prostate cancer are not known. Research has shown that the following risks are associated with prostate cancer:
- Age: Prostate cancer is most often found in men over age 55.
- Family History: The risk is greater if immediate family (father or brother) has had prostate cancer.
- Race: Prostate cancer is more common in African-American men than Caucasian men. The disease is less common in American Indian and Asian men.
- Diet: Some research suggests that a diet high in animal fat may increase risk of the disease. There is some evidence suggesting a diet high in fruits and vegetables may decrease risk.
Early prostate cancer does not normally cause symptoms, but the following may be conditions that are linked to the disease:
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
- Inability to urinate
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Painful or burning urination
- Difficulty achieving an erection
- Painful ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen
- Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
The process of diagnosing prostate cancer can begin with screening for the disease. Two tests are used to detect prostate abnormalities:
- Digital Rectal Exam: A doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum and feels the rectal wall and prostate to check for abnormalities such as hard or lumpy areas.
- Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test: PSA is a blood test that measures the levels of PSA in the blood. PSA levels may to rise when a man has prostate cancer or an infection in the prostate.
Follow this link for more information regarding American Cancer Society screening guidelines.
If symptoms or test results suggest a that man may have prostate cancer, a doctor may order further examinations:
- Transrectal Ultrasonography: Uses sound waves that are emitted by a probe inserted into the rectum. The results are then computer generated.
- Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP): The IVP is a series of X-ray images of urinary tract organs.
- Cytoscopy: Cytoscopy is a procedure in which a physician can look into the urethra and bladder through a thin, lighted tube.
- Biopsy: A doctor may perform a biopsy when test results show that cancer may be present in the prostate.
- Surgery: A common treatment for prostate cancer. The entire prostate may be removed or partially removed.
- Radical Prostatectomy: Involves removal of the prostate.
- Radiation Therapy: Also called radiotherapy, radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells.
- Hormonal Therapy: Keeps cancer cells from getting the male hormones they need for growth.
Follow this link for more information on the Prostate Cancer Resource Center at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.
Follow this link for more information on prostate cancer support. For a physician referral, please call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355).