Cancer answers: What is prostate cancer?

Written by Community Health Network on 6/7/2014 6:00:00 AM

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in menProstate cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the prostate. The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

It is about the size of a walnut and surrounds the urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder). The prostate gland produces fluid that makes up part of the semen.

Who gets prostate cancer?
About one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. It is very rare in men younger than 40, but the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. About 6 in 10 cases of prostate cancer are found in men over the age of 65.

It is most common in African American men, though the reason for this is unknown. 

What are signs and symptoms?
Typically, prostate cancer presents no symptoms in its early stages. However, with later stages of prostate cancer, men may experience the following prostate cancer warning signs: 

  • Urinary symptoms can be a warning sign of developing prostate cancer. These urinary symptoms are often the same as the ones men experience with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), except with prostate cancer the symptoms appear more abruptly. 
  • If the cancer has invaded the nerves beside the prostate, the man may experience erectile dysfunction (ED) or a decrease in the firmness of erections. 
  • Sometimes the first symptoms are severe back, hip or chest pain, which can mean prostate cancer has spread to bones. 
  • Numbness or weakness in legs or feet, or loss of bladder control (from tumor pressing on the spine).
I have signs and symptoms. What now?
Visit your urologist to have a physical exam and a PSA screening blood test to rule out other causes of your symptoms. If the results of the PSA screening or physical exam indicate prostate cancer, your doctor will do a biopsy to confirm presence of cancer.

Call 800.777.7775 for a referral to a urologist or cancer physician at Community Health Network.

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To make an appointment with an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician at Community, call 800-777-7775 today!

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Community Health Network is the first healthcare organization to achieve system-wide recognition by MD Anderson Cancer Network® as a certified member. The five hospital locations providing qualified cancer services in the network have met the rigorous standards to treat cancer patients with MD Anderson evidence-based guidelines and best practices. Learn more.