The prostate is the gland below a man’s bladder, and in front of the rectum, that is part of the male reproductive system. Prostate cancer is common among older men. It is rare in men younger than 40. Risk factors for developing prostate cancer include being over 65 years of age, family history, being African-American and some genetic changes.
As men age, the prostate may get bigger and block or press on the urethra or bladder, and the flow of urine. A normal prostate does not block the flow of urine from the bladder.
Some prostate cancers can grow and spread quickly, but most grow slowly. In fact, autopsy studies show that many older men (and even some younger men) who died of other diseases also had prostate cancer that never affected them during their lives. In many cases, neither they nor their doctors even knew they had it.
Signs & Symptoms
Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. Some advanced prostate cancers can slow or weaken your urinary stream or make you need to urinate more often, especially at night. But non-cancerous diseases of the prostate cause these symptoms more often.
If the prostate cancer is advanced, you might have blood in your urine or trouble getting an erection. Advanced prostate cancer often spreads to the bones, which can cause pain in the hips, back, chest or other areas. Cancer that has spread to the spine can also press on the spinal nerves, causing weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control.
Contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Frequent urination (especially at night)
- Trouble urinating
- Pain or burning during urination
- Blood in the urine or semen
- A pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away
- Painful ejaculation
Treatment depends on many things, including how fast your cancer is growing, how far it has spread, and your general health. Your OHC doctor will help you determine the best care plan for you. Some common treatments include:
- Watchful waiting is common for early-stage prostate cancers. Your doctor will simply monitor your symptoms over time before choosing a treatment.
- Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles to kill cancer cells. This can be done outside the body (external beam radiation) or inside the body (brachytherapy).
- Hormone therapy is used in men with advanced prostate cancer to shrink and slow the growth of tumors. It’s sometimes used in combination with radiation therapy.
- Surgery involves removal of the prostate gland (radical prostatectomy), some surrounding tissue and a few lymph nodes. There are a number of ways the radical prostatectomy procedure can be performed, all of which should be discussed with your physician.