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

New ways to test for prostate cancer

PSA tends to increase as men get older, but levels that get too high may suggest prostate cancer. Many doctors consider a total PSA level higher than 10 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter) as the threshold for getting a biopsy to check for cancer. But men with levels between 4 ng/mL and 10 ng/mL have to decide with their doctors whether to go forward with a biopsy or monitor their condition. Nowadays, men with mild to moderately elevated PSA levels can get additional noninvasive tests that can help with the decision process. (Locked) More »

Predicting low-risk prostate cancer

Men who follow active surveillance for managing their low-risk prostate cancer can now use two online calculators to estimate if their cancer will become aggressive in the future. Men can share this information with their doctor to help establish new strategies regarding when they should have PSA tests and biopsies, and whether to continue active surveillance. (Locked) More »

Radiation after prostate cancer surgery may not be necessary

Many men who have surgery to remove a cancerous prostate receive radiation therapy afterward to wipe out any residual cancer. Alternatively, men can delay radiation and be monitored for signs of returning cancer. New research found that both strategies have similar outcomes. More »

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 »