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 2,844 new cases of prostate cancer and 606 prostate cancer deaths during 2012 alone.

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Who gets Prostate Cancer Most Often?

  • Older men. The chance of developing prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. According to the American Cancer Society, about 60 percent of all prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in men age 65 and older. In addition, 97 percent of all cases occur in men age 50 and older.
  • African-American men. African-American men and Caribbean men of African descent have the highest documented prostate cancer incidence rates in the world. African-American men are also more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage, and are more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men.
  • 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, and that many symptoms also occur frequently as a result of non-cancerous conditions, such as prostate enlargement or infection. None of these symptoms are specific to prostate cancer. 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

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.

It is no longer recommended that men receive the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) – based screening for prostate cancer. Currently, it is recommended that men have a conversation with their health care provider about their personal health and lifestyle, risk for prostate cancer, personal beliefs and preferences for health care, as well as the benefits and harms of PSA screening and any treatment that may result prior to making an informed decision about getting a PSA.

Potential benefits of prostate cancer screening include early detection and possible increased effectiveness of cancer treatment. Potential risks of prostate cancer screening can include false-positive test results, overtreatment and treatment that might lead to serious side effects such as impotence and incontinence. Each man should:

  • Understand his risk of prostate cancer
  • Understand the risks, benefits, and alternatives to screening
  • Participate in the decision to be screened or not at a level he desires
  • Make a decision consistent with his preferences and values

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 (cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/index.html).

Resources

Additional and online resources: