The prostate is a walnut-sized organ that sits below the bladder and through which runs the urethra. The prostate contributes seminal fluid to a man’s ejaculate, which is important in fertility. Prostate cancer is an illness that involves the prostate gland. It is the most common cause of cancer of men in the United States with one in six men being diagnosed annually. The risk of getting prostate cancer increases with age; about half of those diagnosed are age 70 or older.
Survival Rates for prostate cancer are very high. The five-year survival rate for all stages of prostate cancer combined is nearly 100 percent. The 10-year relative survival rate for localized prostate cancer is 98 percent.
Prostate Cancer Risks
Family history of prostate cancer plays an important role in your risk of getting prostate cancer especially if your father, brother or grandfather had the disease. African American men are 60 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasian men and are two and a half more likely to die from the disease. There is also a correlation with certain lifestyle habits including high fat, low protein, low vegetable diets. All men should try to adopt a healthier lifestyle, not only in terms of reducing the risk of prostate cancer, but also for other obvious health reasons. Unlike many other cancers, the association between smoking and prostate cancer has not been clearly defined. Though, generally, we advise all patients to stop smoking.
The decision to initiate prostate screening is somewhat complex. There are certain pros and cons to doing the screening. We know that there is a correlation between certain lifestyle habits (including high fat, low-protein, low-vegetable diets) and prostate cancer risks.
Many men do not show symptoms of prostate cancer when they are initially diagnosed with the disease. In fact many do not even know they have prostate cancer until after discovering an elevation in the Prostate Specific Antigen or PSA, a tumor marker which is found during a routine blood test. Although not as common, some men have found their prostate cancer during their Digital Rectal Exam or DRE given by their health care provider. Even more rare do patients develop significantly worse urinary symptoms or even bone pain and fractures as a result of advanced or metastatic disease.
Prostate cancer screening is done through the Prostate Specific Antigen or PSA. PSA is a protein involved in the reproductive function that is produced by both normal tissue and prostate cancer cells. PSA is measured through a blood sample and the level can give your physician an indication about the risk and extent of the disease. It is the primary tool utilized in both screening and observation of the disease and it will be monitored regularly both before and after treatment.
Diagnosis of prostate cancer is confirmed via a biopsy. This is almost universally performed via guidance of an ultrasound probe inserted in the rectum to directly visualize the prostate. Urologists are now increasing utilizing Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI, in conjunction with ultrasound to target suspicious lesions within the prostate. In more advanced cancers, additional imaging may be necessary including Computed Tomography or CT scans, bone scans and Positron Emission Tomography or PET scans.
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