What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer grows in the prostate gland. The prostate gland is found just below a man’s bladder. The purpose of the gland is to make some of the fluid for semen.

Symptoms

Symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Pain during urination (peeing)
  • Difficultly starting or stopping the stream of urine (pee)
  • Low back pain
  • Pain during ejaculation

Symptoms of prostate cancer may be similar to other health conditions or prostate problems, such as prostatitis (inflammation) or benign prostatic hyperplasia (“BPH” or enlarged prostate). See your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis.

When to See a Doctor

See your healthcare provider if you have any of the symptoms of prostate cancer or any of these urinary symptoms:

  • Need to urinate more during the day
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Less flow while urinating
  • Burning when you urinate
  • Need to get up many times during the night to urinate

Discuss early detection with your healthcare provider at:

  • Age 50 if you have an average risk.
  • Age 45 if you have a high risk of getting prostate cancer. This includes men with a first-degree relative—such as a father, brother, or son—who were diagnosed with prostate cancer at an earlier age (before age 65) or if you are African-American.
  • Age 40 for men at very high risk of having prostate cancer. This includes men with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age.

Causes

Scientists don’t know exactly what causes prostate cancer, but these things increase your chance of getting it:

  • Age over 65 years
  • Family history of the disease, especially if family members were young when it was found
  • Being African-American

Diagnosis and Tests

Your healthcare provider may do a digital rectal exam—insert their finger into your rectum—to feel the prostate for lumps or anything unusual. You may also get a blood test. If any of the results are unusual, you may need imaging tests, such as ultrasound or MRI. You may also need a biopsy, a procedure in which a doctor removes some of the prostate tissue for more testing.

Treatments

Treatment depends on how much the cancer has spread. There are many different treatment options. A treatment that works best for one man many not be the best one for another. Sometimes, a combination of treatments is best. Treatment options include:

Prevention

In general, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly may help prevent certain cancers. There are other specific things you can do that may lower your risk of prostate cancer. They include:

  • Getting enough folate (a kind of vitamin B) in your diet. Folate is naturally found in green vegetables, beans, and orange juice. But, men who take too much folic acid (a man-made type of folate) from supplements—pills with 1 milligram or more—have an increased risk of getting prostate cancer.
  • Taking finasteride [fi-NAS-tuh-rahyd] or dutasteride [doo-TAS-tuh-rahyd]. These medicines help to lower the amount of dihydrotestosterone [dahy-HAHY-droh-tes-TOS-tuh-rohn]—also called DHT—in the body. Higher than normal levels of DHT may increase your risk of getting prostate cancer.
  • Avoiding taking vitamin E supplements alone.

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This medical information is provided by Intermountain Healthcare. It has not been developed to replace medical advice provided by your health care provider.

Last review date: March 2017