What is prostate cancer?

The human body is made up of cells that continually grow, divide, interact, and die on a regular basis. Normal cell growth is controlled by the body and this cycle is kept under tight control. Sometimes, a mutation in a man's genetic material will cause cells in the prostate to grow and divide with very little control until a tumor develops. This is how the prostate cancer cycle starts.

Doctors don't fully know what causes prostate cancer, however, they have found many common factors that contribute to its development. Research has found that some of these gene mutations have been inherited through the shared DNA of our parents- around 5 to 10% of all prostate cancer is linked to this. On the other hand, gene mutations can occur during a person's lifetime due to lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise habits, fluctuations in hormones, and exposure to carcinogens.

Early-stage prostate cancer may not be associated with any obvious signs or symptoms. Most cases of prostate cancer are detected by testing men who have no signs or symptoms.

The signs and symptoms of advancing prostate cancer may include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Frequent need for urination
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Bone Pain

Here are a few facts about prostate cancer:

  • Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer among men. About 200,000 men are diagnosed every year and approximately 30,000 will die from it.
  • Prostate cancer affects 1 in 7 men in their lifetime. In African-American men, the incidence is almost 50% higher and the death rate doubles.
  • If detected early, prostate cancer is successfully treatable. The 10-year relative survival rate is nearly 98%.
  • Annual PSA blood screenings and digital rectal examinations may be useful for men aged 50 years or older. At-risk men (those with a family history of prostate cancer or of African-American heritage) should begin screenings at age 40 or as suggested by their physician.
  • Almost 3 million men in the United States are survivors of prostate cancer.
  • Support groups of survivors are a wonderful source of information for men and their families.