Overview of Prostate Cancer

Cancer or malignant cells are cells in the body that begin to grow out of control and atypically. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer cells, and can then spread to other areas of the body.

Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow out of control. The prostate is a gland found only in males. The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system, which includes the penis, prostate, seminal vesicles, and testicles. The prostate is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is about the size of a walnut and surrounds the urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder).

As a man matures, the prostate tends to increase in size with age. This can usually cause the urethra to narrow which results in urine flow issues and infection. This is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, and it is not the same as prostate cancer.

Who is at risk for Prostate Cancer?

All men are at risk for prostate cancer. The most common risk factor for prostate cancer is age.The older a man is, the greater the chance of getting prostate cancer.

Some men are at increased risk for prostate cancer if they have family history of prostate cancer or if they are of African-American descent.

Family History (Genetic Risk Factors)

For some men, genetic factors may put them at higher risk of prostate cancer.

You have more than one first-degree relative (father, son, or brother) who had prostate cancer, including relatives in three generations on your mother’s or father’s side of the family.

You were diagnosed with prostate cancer when you were 55 years old or younger.

You were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and other members of your family have been diagnosed with breast, ovarian, or pancreatic cancer.

What are the symptoms of Prostate Cancer to watch out for?

Some men can be asymptomatic where they do not have symptoms at all.

If you have any of the following symptoms, be sure to talk to your doctor right away:

*Difficulty starting urination.

*Weak or interrupted flow of urine.

*Urinating often, especially at night.

*Trouble emptying the bladder completely.

*Pain or burning during urination.

*Blood in the urine or semen.

*Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away.

*Painful ejaculation.

This can also be symptoms from UTI, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and other conditions. Consult your doctor to be conclusive of the cause.

Is there a screening process for Prostate Cancer ?

The goal of screening for prostate cancer is to find cancers that may be at high risk for spreading if not treated, and to find them early before they spread.

There is no standard test to screen for prostate cancer. Two tests that are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer are Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test and a digital rectal examination (DRE).

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test

A blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test 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.

As a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. But many factors, such as age and race, can affect PSA levels.

PSA levels also can be affected by:

*Certain medical procedures.

*Certain medications.

*An enlarged prostate.

*A prostate infection.

Because many factors can affect PSA levels, your doctor is the best person to interpret your PSA test results. If the PSA test is abnormal, your doctor may recommend a biopsy to find out if you have prostate cancer.

Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)

Digital rectal examination (DRE) involves a healthcare provider inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into a man’s rectum to feel the prostate and examine it for abnormality.

Should you get screened ?

Some men can be asymptomatic and regular screening is recommended.

There are certain recommendations for screening:

*Men who are 55 to 69 years old should make individual  decisions about being screened for prostate cancer with a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test.

Men who are 70 years old and older should not be screened for prostate cancer routinely.

This recommendation applies to men who :

Are at average risk for prostate cancer.

Are at increased risk for prostate cancer.

Do not have symptoms of prostate cancer.

Have never been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you are thinking about being screened, you and your doctor should consider screening for prostate cancer:

If you have a family history of prostate cancer.

If you are African American.

If you have other medical conditions that may make it difficult for you to be treated for prostate cancer if it is found, or that may make you less likely to benefit from screening.

How you value the potential benefits and harms of screening, diagnosis, and treatment.

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