Dr. Stacy McBroom
Dr. John Upshaw
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Prostate Cancer

Overview

Adenocarcinoma of the prostate is the clinical term for a cancerous tumor on the prostate gland. As prostate cancer grows, it may spread to the interior of the gland, to tissues near the prostate, to seminal vesicles (sac-like structures attached to the prostate), and to distant parts of the body (e.g., bones, liver, lungs). Prostate cancer confined to the gland often is treated successfully.

Anatomy

The prostate gland is located in the pelvis, below the bladder, above the urethral sphincter and the penis, and in front of the rectum in men. It is made up of glandular tissue and muscle fibers that surround a portion of the urethra. The gland is covered by a membrane (prostate capsule) that produces prostate-specific antigen.

Incidence and Prevalence

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men in the United States. The ACS estimates that about 220,900 new cases will be diagnosed in 2003 and about 28,900 men will die of the disease. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, exceeded only by lung cancer.

Prostate cancer occurs in 1 out of 6 men. Reports of diagnosed cases have risen rapidly in recent years and mortality rates are declining, which may be due to increased screening.

African American men have the highest incidence of prostate cancer, and Asian and Native American men have the lowest incidence. Rates for Asian and African men increase sharply when they emigrate to the United States, suggesting an environmental connection (e.g., high-fat diet, smoking).

The risk for developing prostate cancer rises significantly with age, and 60% of newly diagnosed cases occur in men over the age of 70.

Risk Factors

A family history of prostate cancer increases the risk. Other possible risk factors include the following:

  • 55 years old and older
  • Diet high in saturated fat
  • Exposure to heavy metals (e.g., cadmium)
  • Race (African American)
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking

Signs and Symptoms

Early prostate cancer usually is discovered during a routine digital rectal examination (DRE).

Symptoms are often similar to those of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Men observing the following signs and/or symptoms should see their physician for a thorough examination.

  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Inability to urinate
  • Nagging pain or stiffness in the back, hips, upper thighs, or pelvis
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Pain or burning during urination (dysuria)
  • Weak or interrupted urinary flow