Prostate Cancer 101
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a reminder to men to keep an eye out on their body for possible changes to their health.
To understand this disease, it is important to know about the prostate itself: The prostate is a walnut-sized organ, which is located in front of a man’s rectum and below the bladder. Part of the reproductive system, it helps produce semen.
What Is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer occurs when the cells in the gland grow uncontrollably, leading to a malignant tumor. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, affecting about one in seven.
According to the American Cancer Society, 180,890 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2016. An expected 26,120 deaths from the disease will occur this year.
Prostate Cancer Risk Factors
- Age: Men over 65 years old have an increased risk of prostate cancer
- Race: African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasian men
- Family history: There is an increased risk if a family member had prostate cancer
- Genetic changes: A small percentage of cases of prostate cancer are due to gene changes such as the BRCA mutations and Lynch syndrome
Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
So, you’re a man over the age of 65. What should you keep an eye out for?
Unfortunately, if you’re in the early stages of prostate cancer, you may not notice anything different at all. Advanced disease symptoms include:
- Blood in semen or urine
- Erectile dysfunction
- Trouble urinating (frequent urination/need to urinate; slow stream)
- Hip, spine, or rib pain
- Numbness in feet and legs
- Loss of bowel control or bladder control
If you have any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor right away. However, just because you have one or these problems does not mean you definitely have prostate cancer. Many men who have occurrences such as the ones listed above are diagnosed with a benign growth.
If you have questions about your health or any possible symptoms you are having, contact your health care professionals. To learn more about prostate cancer, visit the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center website.