Prostate Cancer Toolkit

Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow in the prostate. There are several types of cells in the prostate, but nearly all prostate cancers start in the gland cells. The prostate is an exocrine gland in the male reproductive system. Excluding all types of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States and Indiana. In Indiana there were 3,345 cases of prostate cancer and 587 prostate cancer deaths during 2010 alone.

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Who gets Prostate Cancer Most Often?

  • Older men. The chance of developing prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50, with two out of three new diagnoses occurring among men over age 65. Prostate cancer incidence rates increase among men until about age 70 and decline thereafter.
  • African American men. African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than any other racial or ethnic group, and they are more than twice as likely to die from the disease as white men. However, in Indiana, this disparity between African American and white men appears to be decreasing.
  • Men with a family history of prostate cancer. Men with one first-degree relative (a father or brother) with a history of prostate cancer are two to three times more likely to develop the disease; those with more than one affected first-degree relative are three to five times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

It’s important to note that some men have no symptoms at all. Common symptoms include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder completely
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Pain in the back, hips or pelvis that doesn’t go away.

These symptoms can also occur frequently as a result of non-cancerous conditions, such as prostate enlargement or infection, and none of these symptoms are specific for prostate cancer.

Early Detection

Not all medical experts agree that screening for prostate cancer will save lives. The controversy focuses on cost of screening, the age groups to be screened, and treatments after diagnosis. Not all forms of prostate cancer need treatment.

Given the potential risks linked to prostate cancer screening, it is vital for men to talk with their health care provider to become informed decision makers. Each man should:

  • Understand his risk of prostate cancer
  • Understand the risks, benefits, and alternatives to screening
  • Make a decision consistent with his preferences and values

Tests commonly used to screen for prostate cancer include:

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE). A doctor or nurse inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate. This allows the examiner to estimate the size of the prostate and feel for any lumps or other abnormalities.
  • Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. This is a blood test that measures levels of PSA, a substance made by the prostate. While high PSA levels can indicate the presence of prostate cancer, it can also indicate other noncancerous conditions.
  • If the PSA or DRE tests are abnormal, doctors may perform additional tests to find or diagnose prostate cancer, including use of transrectal ultrasounds and by taking biopsies.

Prevention

You can take charge of your own health! Staying active, eating well and maintaining a healthy body weight can help prevent prostate cancer.

  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Limit intake of red meats, especially processed meats such as hot dogs, bologna and lunch meat.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of dairy products by consuming three or less servings per day, and calcium (less than 1,500 mg per day).
  • Include recommended levels of lycopene (antioxidants that help prevent damage to DNA which are found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and watermelon) and vitamin E in your diet.
  • Meet recommended levels of physical activity (www.cdc.gov/physcialactivity/everyone/guidelines/index.html).

Resources

Additional and online resources: