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

Radiation: Another treatment choice for prostate cancer

Men diagnosed with prostate cancer have another choice of treatment besides active surveillance or prostate removal surgery: radiation therapy. It is less invasive than surgery and can be used for all four stages of clinical prostate cancer—from low-risk stage 1 to intermediate stage 2 to high-risk stages 3 and 4. (Locked) More »

Can vitamin D levels signal aggressive prostate cancer?

Low levels of vitamin D may help predict aggressive prostate cancer, according to new research. While it only showed an association, the researchers believe low D levels could be used as a valuable biomarker, and help men and their doctors decide whether to consider active surveillance, in which the cancer is monitored for changes.   More »

Ask the doctor: Concern about a now "normal" PSA

I am 68 years old, and recently my PSA level (which was normal before) increased to 5.2 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). My doctor repeated the test one month later, and it was normal again at 3.3 ng/ml. Should I still be concerned? More »

Vasectomy and prostate cancer

Vasectomy has been linked to higher risk of eventually being diagnosed with prostate cancer, but there is no convincing proof that one actually causes the other. (Locked) More »

Prostate cancer: Treat or wait?

After prostate cancer diagnosis, certain men with low-risk cancers can choose to monitor the cancer very closely and treat when the disease progresses. This allows a man to delay or avoid the risks of treatment. The approach is called active surveillance with intention to treat. Bothersome and potentially permanent side effects of treatment include erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. By choosing active surveillance, some men can avoid the risks of treating a cancer that may be unlikely to cause them serious harm within their life span.     (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Prostate surgery and ED

Studies have not shown that taking an erectile function drug right after prostate surgery helps men to recover more erectile function, compared with just taking the drugs as needed for sexual activity. (Locked) More »