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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men aside from skin cancer. One in 6 American men will develop prostate cancer during their lifetime. However, there are many other men who have prostate cancer who do not develop symptoms and who are never diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Most often prostate cancers happen in men who are older than age 65. At this time, more than 2 million men in the United States who have had prostate cancer at some point during their lives are still living.

Risk Factors

Age: A man's age is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer. It is rare for a man to develop prostate cancer before the age of 40. After age 50 the chance of having prostate cancer increases rapidly.

African-American background: Prostate cancer is more common in African American men, than in men of other racial backgrounds. African American men are more often diagnosed with prostate cancer when it is in advanced stages. They are over 2 times more likely to die from prostate cancer than white men. Hispanic/Latino and Asian-American men are less likely to develop prostate cancer.

Family History of Prostate Cancer: Prostate cancer is known to run in families. Men who have a father or a brother who has had prostate cancer have twice the risk of developing prostate cancer than a man without a family history of the disease. One in 10 men who get prostate cancer has hereditary prostate cancer - cancer that is caused by genes inherited from their parents. Hereditary prostate cancer is of concern when a man has one of the following:

  • Three or more close relatives: father, brother, son - who have prostate cancer.
  • Family members with prostate cancer in three generations, one after the other, in the mother's or father's family.
  • At least two family members have prostate cancer at age 55 or younger.

Environmental Factors: Environmental risk factors are associated with developing prostate cancer. These are:

  • Geographic location: where a man lives. For example, there are more white men who develop prostate cancer living in the northwest region of the United States and in New England.
  • A high-fat diet
  • Eating foods with a lot of calories
  • A sedentary lifestyle: getting little exercise


Different people have different symptoms for prostate cancer. Some men do not have symptoms at all. Some symptoms of prostate cancer are:

  • Difficulty starting urination.
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine.
  • Frequent urination, especially at night.
  • Difficulty 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.

If you have any symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away. Keep in mind that these symptoms may be caused by conditions other than prostate cancer.


Two tests are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer:

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE): A doctor or nurse inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to estimate the size of the prostate and feel for lumps or other abnormalities.
  • 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. Some prostate glands make more PSA than others. 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 your prostate specific antigen (PSA) test or digital rectal exam (DRE) is abnormal, doctors may do more tests to find or diagnose prostate cancer.

  • Transrectal ultrasound: A probe the size of a finger is inserted into the rectum, and high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off the prostate to create a picture of the prostate called a sonogram. This test may be used during a biopsy.
  • Biopsy: A small piece of tissue is removed from the prostate and looked at under a microscope to see if there are cancer cells.
  • Gleason score: This score is determined when the biopsy is looked at under the microscope. If there is a cancer, the score indicates how likely it is to spread. The score ranges from 2–10. The lower the score, the less likely it is that the cancer will spread. For more information, visit the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) Prostate Cancer.

For more information about diagnosis, visit NCI’s Prostate Cancer Detection and Diagnosis.


Different types of treatment are available for prostate cancer. You and your doctor will decide which treatment is right for you. Some common treatments are:

  • Active surveillance. Closely monitoring the prostate cancer by performing prostate specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam (DRE) tests regularly, and treating the cancer only if it grows or causes symptoms.
  • Surgery. A prostatectomy is an operation where doctors remove the prostate. Radical prostatectomy removes the prostate as well as the surrounding tissue. Bladder control can be poor for a few months following a prostatectomy. Simply Medical carries are wide range of men's incontinence products if needed during this time.
  • Radiation therapy. Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer. There are two types of radiation therapy:
    • External radiation therapy. A machine outside the body directs radiation at the cancer cells.
    • Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy). Radioactive seeds or pellets are surgically placed into or near the cancer to destroy the cancer cells.
  • Hormone therapy. Blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.

To learn more about prostate cancer, please visit The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention.



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