Prostate Cancer, know the risks, know the facts, know your options.
Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2016 are:
- About 180,890 new cases of prostate cancer
- About 26,120 deaths from prostate cancer
About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.(1)
Prostate cancer develops mainly in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.(1)
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. About 1 man in 39 will die of prostate cancer.(1)
What are the risk factors for Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40, but the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. About 6 in 10 cases of prostate cancer are found in men older than 65.(2)
Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men and in Caribbean men of African ancestry than in men of other races. African-American men are also more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men. Prostate cancer occurs less often in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites. The reasons for these racial and ethnic differences are not clear.(2)
Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor. (Still, most prostate cancers occur in men without a family history of it.)(2)
Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease. (The risk is higher for men who have a brother with the disease than for those who have a father with it.) The risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if their relatives were young when the cancer was found.(2)
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. More advanced prostate cancers sometimes cause symptoms, such as:(3)
- Problems urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Trouble getting an erection (erectile dysfunction)
- Pain in the hips, back (spine), chest (ribs), or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord
Most of these problems are more likely to be caused by something other than prostate cancer. For example, trouble urinating is much more often caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous growth of the prostate. Still, it’s important to tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.(3)
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Screening is testing to find cancer in people before they have symptoms. For some types of cancer, screening can help find cancers at an early stage, when they are likely to be easier to treat.(4)
Prostate cancer can often be found before symptoms arise by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in a man’s blood. Another way to find prostate cancer is the digital rectal exam (DRE), in which the doctor puts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland.(4)
If the results of either one of these tests are abnormal, further testing is often done to see if a man has cancer. If prostate cancer is found as a result of screening with the PSA test or DRE, it will probably be at an earlier, more treatable stage than if no screening were done.(4)
There is no question that screening can help find many prostate cancers early, but there are still questions about whether the benefits of screening outweigh the risks for most men. There are clearly both pros and cons to the prostate cancer screening tests in use today.(4)
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that men have a chance to make an informed decision with their health care provider about whether to be screened for prostate cancer. The decision should be made after getting information about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening. Men should not be screened unless they have received this information. The discussion about screening should take place at:(5)
- Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
- Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).
- Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).
Several different treatments and combinations of treatments may be used, including:
- Radiation therapy
1. What are the key statistics about prostate cancer? American Cancer Society. (2016.) Retrieved September 2016, from http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/ProstateCancer/DetailedGuide/prostate-cancer-key-statistics
2. What are the risk factors for prostate cancer? American Cancer Society. (2016.) Retrieved Septemner 2016. from http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/ProstateCancer/DetailedGuide/prostate-cancer-risk-factors
3. What are the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer? American Cancer Society. (2010.) Retrieved August 5, 2010, from http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/ProstateCancer/MoreInformation/ProstateCancerEarlyDetection/prostate-cancer-early-detection-symptoms-of-prostate-cancer
4. Can prostate cancer be found early? American Cancer Society. (2016.) Retrieved September 2016, from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-detection
5. American Caner Society recommendations for Prostate Cancer Early Detection. American Cancer Society. (2016.) Retrieved September 2016, from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/moreinformation/prostatecancerearlydetection/prostate-cancer-early-detection-acs-recommendations
Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40, but the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. About 6 in 10 cases of prostate cancer are found in men older than 65.