What is prostate cancer?

Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells in the body grow out of control. When cancer starts in the prostate, it is called prostate cancer. The prostate is a walnut-sized organ located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum in men. It produces fluid that makes up a part of semen.

Who gets prostate cancer?

Only men can get prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men. Each year, more than 200,000 men in the United States are told by doctors that they have prostate cancer, and about 30,000 men die from this disease.

What raises a man’s chance of getting prostate cancer?

There is no way to know for sure if you will get prostate cancer. Men have a greater chance of getting prostate cancer if they are 50 years old or older, are African-American, or have a father, brother, or son who has had prostate cancer.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

Different men have different symptoms for prostate cancer. Some men do not have symptoms at all. Some possible symptoms of prostate cancer are:

  • Difficulty in starting urination
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Difficulty in emptying the bladder completely
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away

If you have any symptoms, you should see your doctor right away. Keep in mind that these symptoms may be caused by other health problems.

Are there tests that can find prostate cancer early?

Cancer screening means looking for cancer before it causes symptoms. Tests that are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer are—

  • Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test: PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in the blood, which may be higher in men who have prostate cancer. However, other conditions such as an enlarged prostate, prostate infection, and certain medical procedures also may increase PSA levels.
  • Digital rectal exam (DRE): A doctor or nurse checks the size and shape of the prostate.

Should I get screened for prostate cancer?

Not all medical experts agree that screening for prostate cancer is right for all men. Prostate cancer screening has potential risks as well as a potential benefit. The potential benefit of prostate cancer screening is finding cancer early, when treatment may be more effective. Potential risks include false positive test results (the test says you have cancer when you do not), treating prostate cancer that may never affect your health, and side effects from prostate cancer treatment.

Men should talk with their doctors to learn the nature and risks of prostate cancer, understand the benefit and risks of the screening tests, and decide whether prostate cancer screening is right for them.

Adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Prostate Cancer Screening Fact Sheet: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/pdf/prostate_fs_final.pdf