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What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is a cancer that starts in the tissues of the prostate. The prostate is a small walnut-sized gland in the male reproductive system found below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.

Types

There are many forms of prostate cancer; however the most common type is adenocarcinoma.

  • Adenocarcinoma: The vast majority of prostate cancers are adenocarcinoma. It originates in the main glandular zone of the prostate. It usually grows slowly and at first remains confined to the prostate gland, where there is a better chance of successful treatment.

  • Other rare and more aggressive forms of prostate cancer include: small cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, sarcomas and transitional cell carcinoma.

Risk factors

  • Age: Prostate cancer is most common in men over 65. The risk factor for prostate cancer increases with age.

  • Race: African American men have a higher risk for developing prostate cancer.

  • Family history: A man with a father or brother who has had prostate cancer is more likely to develop the disease. The risk increases if the family member with prostate cancer was diagnosed at an early age.

  • Obesity: Obese men have a greater risk of developing a more advanced and aggressive form of prostate cancer.

  • A strong family history of breast cancer: Men with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation (associated with a higher risk for breast cancer) are at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer.

Symptoms

In its early stages, prostate cancer may cause little or no symptoms. This is why it is important to get yearly routine screenings, especially after age 50. Also, having one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you will develop prostate cancer. If you experience any of these symptoms it is important to consult with your doctor:

  • Trouble urinating (frequency, urgency, hesitancy, and pain during urination)
  • Blood in your urine
  • Blood in your semen
  • Swelling in your legs
  • Pelvic area discomfort
  • Bone pain
  • Difficult erection or painful ejaculation
  • Persistent pain in the hip region

 

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