Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a golf-ball-sized gland that sits between the bladder and the penis. It secretes fluid that nourishes and protects sperm. Most older men have some cancer cells in their prostate glands. But because these cells usually grow slowly, they don't cause symptoms or affect health in most men. That said, about 230,000 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, and nearly 30,000 die of it.

Exactly why some men develop full-blown prostate cancer and others don't is a mystery. But researchers have identified several factors that raise a man's risk of the disease. These include:

Age. Older men are far more likely to develop prostate cancer than younger men.

Race. African-American men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men, and to be diagnosed with more advanced-stage cancer.

Family history. A man whose father or brother has been diagnosed with prostate cancer is two to three times more likely to develop prostate cancer than a man who doesn't have family members with the disease.

Lifestyle. Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products seem to have a higher risk of prostate cancer.

Treatments for prostate cancer include an operation to remove the prostate (prostatectomy) and radiation therapy. Both often cause side effects such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Since early treatment with surgery or radiation doesn't necessarily "cure" the disease, and prevents relatively few men from dying from prostate cancer, more and more men are opting for a strategy known as watchful waiting or active surveillance. They and their doctors monitor the low-risk cancer closely and choose treatment only when the disease appears to make threatening moves toward growing and spreading.

Prostate Cancer Articles

Wait-and-see approaches to prostate cancer

Two of the more popular options now for managing low-risk prostate cancer are active surveillance and watchful waiting, during which therapy is not done right away. Monitoring prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels for changes and having routine digital rectal exams are the foundation for active surveillance. Watchful waiting is often for men ages 70 and older and doesn’t require any PSA testing or rectal exams, but instead postpones treatment unless significant symptoms develop. (Locked) More »

Body fat may predict aggressive prostate cancer

Scientists found that the accumulation of visceral fat (which lies deep in the abdomen) and thigh subcutaneous fat (which lies just under the skin) were both associated with a greater risk of developing advanced prostate cancer as well as dying from the disease. More »

Thriving with localized prostate cancer

About 90% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer have the localized kind confined to the prostate gland. For many, a reasonable approach is active surveillance, in which men choose to have careful monitoring of their cancer instead of having surgery or radiation therapy. This is also an opportunity for men to keep their cancer from becoming more aggressive by changing their diet and exercise habits. More »

Is prostate cancer linked with other cancers?

Prostate cancer that occurs after age 60 probably does not increase the risk of getting a different kind of cancer. However, some men might have a genetic risk for a more aggressive type of prostate cancer, which could increase their risk of other cancers. (Locked) More »