Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer, other than skin cancer, among men in the US. In fact, The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2010, about 217,730 men will be newly diagnosed with the disease. Yet there's reassuring news—although 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, only 1 in 36 will die from the disease, and the fatality rate is going down1.
Prostate cancer invades the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system located at the base of the bladder. The prostate is about the size of a walnut and is responsible for producing semen, which transports sperm during male orgasm1.
Cancer develops when cells in a part of the body grow out of control. Unlike normal cells that have a life cycle of growth, division, and death, cancer cells live for a long time and breed other cancer cells. Most cancers form as a tumor in one body part or organ and can travel to other parts of the body where they may continue to grow and replace normal cells. This process is called metastasis1.
The chance that a man will develop prostate cancer increases with age. The disease is rare in men younger than 40, while almost 2 out of 3 new instances of prostate cancer are diagnosed in men over the age of 65. Race can also be a factor—African American men are at greater risk for prostate cancer than any other group in the US. Men with a family history of prostate cancer are also at greater risk1.
In its early stages, most men won't notice any symptoms of their prostate cancer. If the cancer spreads just beyond the prostate, some men have problems urinating or suffer from impotence— which can also mimic symptoms of other diseases. If the cancer becomes advanced and moves to other organs, some men experience pain in the pelvis, lower back or upper thighs. Some men also experience bone pain, fatigue, or weight loss2.
If you think you may suffer from prostate cancer, you should talk to your healthcare professional.