About Prostate Cancer
What is the Prostate?
The prostate is a gland found only in men. It is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is about the size of a walnut. The urethra that carries urine from the bladder out of the body runs through the prostate. It also produces some of the fluid that helps keep the sperm alive and healthy.
As men get older, the prostate tends to enlarge. Sometimes, it can squeeze the urethra and can urinary complications. This is known as Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy or BPH and is not the same as prostate cancer.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States. The incidence is increasing in part due to an increase in awareness and improved detection, but also due to the aging of the U.S. population. Studies have shown no relationship of prostate cancer to infections, dietary habits, smoking, sexual habits or occupational exposure and there is no known relationship between benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and prostate cancer.
Men with a family history of prostate cancer are three times more likely to develop the disease. If a man has a father or brother who has had prostate cancer before the age of 65, his chances for developing it increases fourfold. One in every six men will develop prostate cancer and one if every three men will develop the disease in the African American community.
How is Prostate Cancer detected?
Prostate Cancer is determined by a biopsy of the Prostate. Your doctor may order a biopsy if the following apply:
- You have an abnormal digital rectal exam (DRE).
- You have an abnormal PSA blood test.
A digital rectal exam is a routine exam usually performed at a yearly office visit with your doctor. To perform this exam, the doctor with feel the prostate through the rectum for any abnormalities in the prostate. An abnormality could consist of a firm prostate or any bumps felt within the prostate.
A PSA test is a simple blood test performed by your doctor. PSA is a substance that is made by the prostate. If this level increases, it may alert your doctor to a problem.
What are the signs of Prostate Cancer?
In many cases, prostate cancer grows slowly over several years. Most men with early prostate cancer don’t have signs or symptoms. Symptoms most often show up later as the cancer grows.
Signs of advanced prostate cancer could include:
- Trouble having of keeping an erection (impotence)
- Blood in the urine
- Pain the back, hips, ribs, or other bones
- Feeling weak or numb in the legs or feet
- Loss of bladder or bowel control.
Most of the time, these symptoms are caused by something other than cancer. Still, if you have any of these problems, you should see you doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated.
What is a Prostate Biopsy?
A Prostate Biopsy can be performed by your doctor in the event you are showing signs of Prostate Cancer. A biopsy consists of taking tissue samples from the prostate and examining them under a microscope to determine the presence of any cancer cells.