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Prostate Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Disabled World: Revised/Updated: 2019/09/08

Synopsis: Information on prostate cancer including diagnosis, causes, symptoms and treatment options. Prostate cancer is the ninth-most-common cancer in the world, but is the number-one non-skin cancer in men from the United States. Prostate cancer is usually detected through a blood test called the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test, or through a digital rectal exam (DRE).

Main Document

The presence of non-skin cancers in America has brought a certain amount of awareness to its citizens, but there is a need for more awareness where Prostate Cancer is concerned. Among American men, Prostate Cancer is the most common form of non-skin cancer. Nearly one in six American men will find themselves facing a diagnosis of Prostate Cancer at some point, which makes men thirty-five percent more likely to face a diagnosis of Prostate Cancer than women will be to face a diagnosis of Breast Cancer.

Prostate cancer, also known as carcinoma of the prostate, is the development of cancer in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, some grow relatively fast. The cancer cells may spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes. It may initially cause no symptoms. In later stages it can cause difficulty urinating, blood in the urine, or pain in the pelvis, back or when urinating.

Detection, Diagnosis and Staging of Prostate Cancer

Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. Sometimes, however, prostate cancer does cause symptoms, often similar to those of diseases such as benign prostatic hyperplasia. These include:

  • Dysuria (painful urination)
  • Hematuria (blood in the urine)
  • Frequent urination, nocturia (increased urination at night)
  • Difficulty starting and maintaining a steady stream of urine
  • A study based on the 1998 Patient Care Evaluation in the US found that about a third of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer had one or more such symptoms, while two thirds had no symptoms.

Nearly ninety-percent of prostate cancer cases are detected while the tumor is still confined within the prostate itself, or within its immediate environment.

The good news is that almost one-hundred percent of all men who are diagnosed at this stage of prostate cancer can be cured of this disease after receiving treatment. Unfortunately, men who are in this very early stage of prostate cancer do not exhibit signs or symptoms of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is usually detected through a blood test called the PSA or, 'Prostate-Specific Antigen,' test, or through a digital rectal exam (DRE).

In order to make a diagnosis of prostate cancer, a biopsy must be done of the prostate itself. The cells taken from the biopsy are then examined, and additional imaging tests are done that help doctors to make a diagnosis. The testing results also help the doctor to determine the stage the prostate cancer is at.

Treating Prostate Cancer

Male anatomy picture showing location of the prostate glandAbout This Image: Male anatomy picture showing location of the prostate gland When Prostate Cancer is in the early stage, it is many times treated with active surveillance, or possibly surgery, and perhaps radiation treatment.

While pursuing active surveillance doctors monitor the cancer closely through regular PSA blood testing and additional examinations until making a decision to treat the prostate cancer with surgery or radiation treatment.

If a prostatectomy is performed, the prostate itself and the tissue surrounding it are removed surgically.

The doctor may also choose to pursue radiation therapy. Should the doctor choose to pursue radiation therapy they will direct radiation at prostate cancer cells. This is done using high-intensity radiation beams, or with radiation-emitting pellets that are implanted.

Treatment of Advanced Prostate Cancer

Testosterone in men is known to promote the growth of Prostate Cancer, and for men who have advanced Prostate Cancer, hormone therapy to lower the levels of testosterone is a typical form of treatment.

Chemotherapy is another form of treatment used for men with advanced Prostate Cancer. Chemotherapy helps to distribute cancer-destroying medicines throughout the body.

There are also specialized therapies doctors use to target Prostate Cancer that has affected bones.

Prostate Cancer Statistics

  • About 99% of cases occur in those over the age of 50.
  • Having a first degree relative with the disease increases the risk 2 to 3 fold.
  • In the United States it is more common in the African American population than the Caucasian population.
  • Prostate cancer is the ninth-most-common cancer in the world, but is the number-one non-skin cancer in men from the United States.

The American Cancer Society's estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2015 are:

  • About 27,540 deaths from prostate cancer
  • About 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer
  • About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
  • Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. About 1 man in 38 will die of prostate cancer.
  • Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.

Research and the Future

The Prostate Cancer Foundation, government agencies, and biopharmaceutical companies continue to invest in research into Prostate Cancer. Due to their efforts new treatments and therapies also continue to be studied in research laboratories and through clinical trials throughout the nation.



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