Prostate Cancer Facts
What Is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is a disease in which cells in the prostate start growing abnormally and uncontrollably.
The prostate is a walnut-shaped organ that contributes fluid to semen and helps expel semen during ejaculation.
Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas (which originate from the glandular cells of the prostate) and most are slow growing. However, they may cause symptoms that require timely interventions, such as restricting urine flow or sexual function.
What Increases Your Risk of Prostate Cancer?
Factors that can elevate risk prostate cancer include:
- A family history of prostate cancer
- Inherited genetic mutations, such as BRCA1/BRCA2 genes and Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer or HNPCC)
- Conditions such as prostatitis, inflammation of the prostate, and benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland
- A diet high in red meats and high-fat dairy and low in fruits and vegetables
- Age: approximately 60 percent of cases are diagnosed in men older than 65
- Race and ethnicity: African-American men and Caribbean men of African ancestry are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer
Research has also shown that a healthy lifestyle, including a well-balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight, may reduce prostate cancer risk.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
Because the prostate lies below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, most prostate cancer signs are tied to urinary symptoms, including:
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Frequent and sudden urge to urinate, especially at night
- Difficulty starting urination
- Trouble emptying the bladder completely
- Painful or burning sensations while urinating
- Blood in urine or semen
Prostate cancer may also cause more generalized symptoms, such as:
- Pain in the lower back or pelvic area
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet
Although these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, you should check with a doctor – preferably a urologist – so they can make a definitive diagnosis.
Sources: National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society