How to Know if You are at Risk for Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is a very common form of cancer among American males. The cancer attacks the prostate, which is the small gland that produces seminal fluid. Prostate cancer is typically slow-growing. There is an excellent chance for successful treatment if the cancer is detected early.
Causes of Prostate Cancer
The exact cause of prostate cancer is not known. Like other kinds of cancer, it begins when mutations in DNA cause cells to grow and divide rapidly. The cells create tumors that can invade other organs.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Initially, prostate cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms. As the disease progresses, symptoms usually include:
- Difficulty urinating
- Pelvic pain and discomfort
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased urine stream
- Blood in semen
- Bone pain
Prostate cancer and its treatments present risks including erectile dysfunction, incontinence, and cancer that spreads to other places in the body.
Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer can affect men of any age and background; however, common risk factors include:
- Age—Your chances of prostate cancer increase as you get older, making it a significant senior health concern.
- Race—African-American males have a higher incidence of prostate cancer than other men.
- Obesity—Prostate cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage in obese males, making it harder to treat.
- Family history—Your risk of prostate cancer is greater if you have a strong family history of prostate or breast cancer.
Diagnosing Prostate Cancer
Most medical experts recommend that men begin prostate screenings in their 50s. Testing usually involves a digital rectal exam and a Prostate Specific Antigen blood test. If these tests are abnormal, your doctor may send you for an ultrasound and biopsy to determine the presence of cancer.
Treatment for Cancer
Several treatment options are available depending on the stage of the cancer:
- Hormone therapy
- Freezing affected tissue
- Biological therapy to stimulate the immune system
Healthy lifestyle choices can reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer:
- Be physically active
- Eat a healthy diet centered on fruits and vegetables
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Talk to your doctor about your risk and possible screenings
Prostate issues can be uncomfortable to discuss; however, you should make an appointment with your physician if you have any of the above symptoms.