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Prostate cancer: risk factors, screening, and treatment

One in every seven men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis in his lifetime, making it one of the most common types of cancer for men. The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that produces seminal fluid in men. Cancer occurs in this part of the body when abnormal cells begin growing more rapidly than normal cells.

Often, this condition grows slowly and may not cause serious harm. People with prostate cancer may need only minimal treatment or routine monitoring. However, these tumors can also be more aggressive and spread to another area of the body quickly. Therefore, it's important to discuss treatment options with your doctor.

Prostate cancer risk factors

While the exact cause of this condition is unknown, there are several risk factors that can increase your chances of developing this disease. These include:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • African American heritage
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol consumption

Prostate cancer symptoms

In most cases, this condition doesn't cause any symptoms. However, those who did experience symptoms reported:

  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Difficulty stopping or starting the flow of urination
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Pain or pressure in the rectum

These symptoms could indicate a number of things that are not prostate cancer. If you experience any of the above symptoms, talk to your primary care physician.

Prostate cancer screenings and diagnosis

Because symptoms of this condition are rare, screening for this disease is essential. For men at average risk, the American Cancer Society recommends getting routine screenings starting at age 50. If you have multiple risk factors or a family history of prostate cancer, talk with your doctor about how frequently you should receive screenings.

If your physician detects an abnormality when performing an exam, they can confirm a cancer diagnosis by examining biopsy cells through a microscope. The pathologist can then determine the aggressiveness of the tumor on the Gleason scale, a grading system that categorizes the patterns of prostate tumor cells.

Schedule a screening with a St. Luke's Health urologist today.

Prostate cancer treatment and surgery

Because many prostate tumors can be slow-growing, your treatment team may recommend observation or active surveillance for cancers that are not especially aggressive. Other treatment options include:

  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Surgery (prostatectomy)

The multidisciplinary team at St. Luke's Health works with patients to recommend what treatment options are best for each individual case and each individual person. Talk to your oncologist for more information.

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U.S. News & World Report

Home of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of only three NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Texas, U.S. News & World Report has accredited Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center as one of the best hospitals for several specialties, including previous accreditation for compassionate patient-centered cancer care.