Growth of malignant (cancerous) cells in the prostate gland. The prostate is about the size of a walnut and is located just below the urinary bladder in men. It helps form semen. This cancer often grows very slowly and may never cause symptoms. In some cases, it grows more rapidly, such as in younger men. Prostate cancer usually affects men over age 50.
FREQUENT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
No symptoms (usually). Most prostate cancers are discovered during a routine rectal exam.
Difficult, frequent, weak, or painful urination.
Pain in the low back or pelvis from spread of cancer.
RISK INCREASES WITH
Age over 50.
Family history of prostate cancer.
African Americans, more than whites or others.
No specific preventive measures. A yearly rectal exam after age 40 and PSA testing may help detect early prostate cancer. A healthy diet may have some preventive benefit, but it has not yet been proven.
Often curable with surgery if treated before cancer spreads. If the cancer has spread, treatment can relieve symptoms and prolong life.
Fatal spread to bone, bladder, and other organs.
Cancer may recur after treatment.
Sexual impotence after surgery (sometimes).
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
Your health care provider will do a digital rectal exam (DRE). During a DRE, a gloved, lubricated finger is inserted into the rectum to check the prostate gland for lumps. Blood levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) will be checked. PSA, a protein produced by the prostate, is higher than normal in prostate diseases. Ultrasound, biopsy, CT, and other tests may be done to confirm the cancer diagnosis and to see if it has spread to other places in the body (staging).
Treatment depends on the cancer stage, age, and the health status and personal preferences of the patient.
Treatment may include surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy (sometimes), and watchful waiting. It helps to discuss your options with family and friends and/or support groups.
Watchful waiting. Some prostate cancers grow quite slowly, and some men may choose to not treat them.
Surgery to remove the prostate gland and surrounding tissues if the cancer has not spread. Other surgery may just remove the cancerous area and not the entire prostate. Your health care provider will explain the options, risks, and benefits.
Cryosurgery may be recommended. It treats cancer that has not spread by freezing the cancer cells.
Radiation or hormone treatment if the cancer has spread or for patients unable to undergo surgery.
Tiny "seeds" may be inserted in the prostate. They deliver a dose of radiation over 3 to 6 months.
Counseling, if sexual difficulties occur after treatment.
Hormones (usually estrogens or luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone) to slow cancer growth.
Chemotherapy (anticancer drugs) may be prescribed if the cancer has spread.
Drugs for pain may be prescribed.
Resume your normal activities gradually after surgery. Follow medical advice about resuming sexual relations.
A low-fat diet.
NOTIFY OUR OFFICE IF
You or a family member has symptoms of prostate cancer.
During treatment, any sign of urinary-tract infection occurs, such as frequent, difficult, or painful urination, fever and chills, aching around the genitals or rectum, or backache.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.