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

The facts about testosterone and sex

Testosterone, the hormone that gives men their many masculine qualities, naturally declines with age. While increasing levels with testosterone replacement therapy may improve sex drive and performance, it is not for everyone and even may increase certain health risks. (Locked) More »

The option of prostate cancer surgery

Men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer have a choice of several different approaches to therapy. Surgery called a prostatectomy involves removing the entire prostate gland. While this is the most invasive approach for treating prostate cancer, it may be the best option for men with aggressive prostate cancer that has not spread outside the gland. (Locked) More »

Mushrooms may protect against prostate cancer

Researchers found that men who consumed mushrooms at least once a week had lower risk of prostate cancer compared with those who ate no mushrooms. Scientists speculate that mushrooms’ high levels of ergothioneine, a potential cancer preventive, may explain the connection. More »

Prostate cancer and your sex life

Common treatments and management of prostate cancer, such as active surveillance, radical prostatectomy, radiation therapy, and androgen deprivation therapy, also can affect a man’s sex life. Side effects may include poor sexual function, low libido, and erectile dysfunction. Understanding how these changes occur can help men in their choice of treatment. (Locked) More »

Biopsy of the Prostate and Transrectal Ultrasound

Your doctor is likely to recommend this test if you've had a rectal exam or blood tests that suggest that you might have prostate cancer. For this test, a urologist takes tissue samples from several places in your prostate, to be examined for cancer. A transrectal ultrasound helps the urologist see the prostate during the procedure. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take before scheduling the procedure. If you take aspirin, another NSAID or an anticoagulant medicine such as warfarin (Coumadin), your doctor will advise if changes need to be made for the biopsy. Be sure to mention any allergies, especially to antibiotics. Some doctors recommend that you have an enema the night before or the morning of the test. And some doctors also recommend taking an antibiotic one hour before the procedure starts. (Locked) More »

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 »