Providing Care That's Relevant to You

You are viewing content for

What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer occurs in the prostate gland in the male reproductive system. The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland that produces seminal fluid.

How Common is Prostate Cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 200,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States this year. Sixty-five percent of all prostate cancers are found in men ages 65 – 69.

What Are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer may not present any symptoms in its early stages. Advanced prostate cancer symptoms may include:

  • Urinary problems, including trouble urinating or decreased force in the stream of urine.
  • Blood in the urine or semen.
  • Pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.
  • Erectile dysfunction.

What Are the Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer?

The causes of prostate cancer are unknown; research suggests that genetics, hormones, diet, and the environment may play a role in prostate cancer. Factors that can increase your risk of developing prostate cancer include:

  • Age: most cases are diagnosed in men over the age of 50
  • Ethnicity: prostate cancer is more common in African-American men
  • Family history
  • Diet: a diet high in calcium has been linked to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer

How is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?

Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test: A prostate-specific antigen is a blood test that measures the levels of a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland. PSA is often elevated or rises rapidly in men with prostate cancer.

Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): During a digital rectal exam, a physician feels the prostate for abnormalities.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam (DRE) screening recommendations:

  • 45-49 years of age - Annually for men starting at age 45 if you are African American or if your father, brother, or son had prostate cancer before the age of 65.
  • 50 years of age or older - Annually for men.

What Are the Different Stages of Prostate Cancer?

Staging is the process of diagnosing the severity of prostate cancer. The staging system for prostate cancer is based on:

  • The extent of the primary tumor.
  • Whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
  • The PSA level at the time of diagnosis.
  • The Grade Group (a measure of how likely the cancer is to grow and spread) determined by the results of the prostate biopsy.

The stages of prostate cancer range from 1 – 4. Lower numbers mean the less the cancer has spread, with higher numbers meaning the cancer has spread more. Some stages are split further using letters, with earlier letters meaning a lower stage, and later letters meaning a higher stage.

How is Prostate Cancer Treated?

How Can Prostate Cancer Be Prevented?

  • Improve your diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get regular exercise
  • Stop smoking, or don’t start smoking
  • Drink in moderation
  • Increase Vitamin D

FAQs About Prostate Cancer

Will prostate cancer affect fertility?

Yes. Your sperm will not be able to physically leave your body after surgical treatment for prostate cancer since you will not be able to produce seminal fluid. If you wish to father children after prostate cancer treatment, you should consider sperm banking.

What is a urologist?

A urologist is a doctor who specializes in conditions affecting the urinary tract and disease affecting the reproductive system. They will be part of your treatment team, along with cancer specialists.

Why would my doctor recommend watchful waiting or active surveillance for my prostate cancer?

If you are older or have other serious health problems, your doctor may recommend active surveillance or watchful waiting. Since prostate cancer grows very slowly, these two populations might never need treatment.

  • Active surveillance: a doctor visit with PSA blood test conducted every 6 months, and a DRE conducted once a year. Biopsies or imaging tests are done every 1 to 3 years.
  • Watchful waiting: a less intensive follow-up with fewer tests, relying on changes in symptoms to decide if treatment is needed. Treatment is meant to control symptoms rather than cure cancer.
Where is prostate cancer most likely to spread?

If prostate cancer begins to spread, it is most likely to metastasize to the bones first.

What support and resources are available through MemorialCare for people diagnosed with prostate cancer?

We provide numerous support groups and resources to guide you through your prostate cancer journey.

Locations Treating Prostate Cancer