The prostate is a reproductive gland found only in males that produces some of the fluid that helps to sustain sperm cells. Nearly all cases of prostate cancer originate in these gland cells. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. In fact, about one in every six men will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) reports that there are roughly 2.5 million men in the U.S. currently living with the disease. In the majority of cases, prostate cancer is a slow-growing disease that develops gradually.
What causes prostate cancer is unclear, but experts believe that heredity plays a part. Older age also raises the risk significantly. (According to the PCF, one in 38 men aged 40 to 59 will be diagnosed.) What’s more is that these numbers are even higher for men aged 60 to 69 – these men have a one in 14 chance of developing prostate cancer. African American men are at an increased risk, as well. However, the reason for this is unclear. African American men are over 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed than Caucasian men.
Symptoms and Treatment
The encouraging news about prostate cancer is that is has a high early detection rate and is often caught in the early stages. According to the PCF, almost all men who are diagnosed during this time will maintain disease-free status five years later. For the men who do experience symptoms, they typically include difficulty urinating, blood in the urine, pelvic discomfort and erectile dysfunction.
Not all cases of prostate cancer require formal treatment. A common treatment approach is called active surveillance, which involves continual monitoring of the prostate in lieu of aggressive intervention. This involves regular check-ups and consistent blood tests to track the patient’s status. Some prostate cancers do advance quickly and may require more hands-on treatment. Suppressing testosterone via hormone therapy can help slow the growth of the cancer in some cases. Eliminating cancer cells by way of extreme heat or cold is another option, as is surgery.
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