Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting men in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, 12.9% of American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. When detected early, the survival rate is very high. In fact, 98% of men diagnosed in the early stages of cancer will be free of the disease within five years. This cancer is slow to grow and spread, and the best defense is paying attention to warning signs and getting regular screenings by your doctor.
What Does the Prostate Do?
The prostate is a male reproductive organ responsible for secreting prostate fluid. This is a primary component of semen, comprising about one-third of the total volume. During ejaculation, the gland also helps propel seminal fluid into the urethra. It sits just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra. It is small — about the size of a walnut.
The prostate’s position around the urethra can be a risk if it becomes swollen. More than half of men over 60 experience a swollen prostate, which can irritate the bladder and interfere with urination. A swollen prostate can also be a sign of cancer.
What Causes Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer develops when the cells grow uncontrollably. Researchers aren’t sure what causes it, but it often coincides with these risk factors:
- Advanced age – The risk of prostate cancer goes up after age 50, and more than 85% of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in men over 65.
- Race – African-American men are more likely to develop this cancer than white men.
- Genetics – You are more likely to develop it if there is a family history.
- Hormonal imbalance – Low testosterone and progesterone may contribute to an enlarged prostate.
- Agent Orange exposure – The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs associates prostate cancer with Agent Orange, a chemical used during the Vietnam War.
- Poor diet and lack of exercise – A lack of vegetables in the diet as well as inactivity may contribute to an aggressive form of prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Because the prostate gland is close to the bladder and urethra, signs of cancer often manifest as urinary symptoms, including:
+ Pain during urination
+ Frequent urination
+ Difficulty urinating
+ Loss of bladder control
+ Decreased urine flow
+ Blood in urine
Other signs of prostate cancer include:
+ Painful ejaculation
+ Blood in semen
+ Leg or pelvis swelling
+ Numbness or pain in the hips, legs, or feet
+ Bone pain or bones that fracture easily
Each prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment plan is different. Learning and looking out for symptoms is the first step toward successful recovery. The cancer is usually slow to spread, and most men who are diagnosed early will be cancer-free after five years.
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