According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. The prostate gland, which is about the size of a walnut, sits between the bladder and the rectum and partially surrounds the urethra (the tube which carries urine from the bladder) and its main function is to produce and store a clear fluid which makes up about thirty percent of male semen. It is important for men to understand the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer and how to prevent it. The average age at which diagnosis is made in the United States is currently 70.
Signs and Symptoms
In many cases however the progress of the disease is slow and early stage prostate cancer often carries few if any noticeable symptoms. For this reason many men can suffer from prostate cancer for years before it is diagnosed. Some men that have prostate cancer may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Frequent or difficult urination
- Weak urine flow
- Erectile dysfunction
- Painful ejaculation and blood in the urine or semen.
Problems arise however if prostate cancer is more advanced at the time of diagnosis and has already spread into neighboring tissue and bone, or has been carried to other parts of the body, usually through the lymphatic system. Here a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and possibly hormone therapy can certainly help in treating the problem but the cancer will often reappear.
Screening and Prevention
According to the American Cancer Society men at average risk for prostate cancer should routinely be screened at age 50 years old. If there are risk factors (including family history of a first-degree relative or being African American, they should be screened sooner.
Screening is done by completing a rectal exam as well as checking a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Talk with your doctor about your risk and/or if you are experiencing any symptoms. In addition, it is important to maintain a healthy diet and weight to minimize risk of prostate cancer.