What you should know about prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in American men, after skin cancer. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with prostate cancer, one of the first things you can do is educate yourself about the disease and available treatment options.
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in a man's prostate — the walnut-size gland in the male reproductive system. It is located below the bladder in front of the rectum and surrounds the upper part of the urethra, the tube that empties urine from the bladder. The prostate helps regulate bladder control and produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Read more about how prostate cancer incidence and treatment options.
What causes prostate cancer?
It is not yet known what specifically causes prostate cancer, but there are several risk factors for the disease, including age. Find out if you are at risk for prostate cancer.
What are symptoms or signs of prostate cancer?
Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. Typically it is found by a PSA test or digital rectal exam (DRE.) Read more about early, late and advanced stage symptoms including blood in urine and problems with urinary stream.
When should I start testing for prostate cancer?
There are benefits and risks to being tested. Three key groups, The American Cancer Society (ACS), the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the American Urological Association, have urged family physicians to discuss the value and risks of routine testing with all male patients, taking into consideration their unique medical history. However, it’s worth noting the major studies of prostate cancer prevention, screening, treatment and outcomes all dramatically underestimate the risk to African American men, who are 60 percent more likely to get prostate cancer. Learn more about recommendations for prostate cancer testing.
If I have prostate cancer, should I see a urologist or an oncologist for treatment?
The main types of doctors who treat prostate cancer include:
- Urologists: surgeons who treat diseases of the urinary system and male reproductive system (including the prostate)
- Radiation oncologists: doctors who treat cancer with radiation therapy
- Medical oncologists: doctors who treat cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy
- Surgical oncologists: doctors who treat cancer by removing tumors and surrounding tissue during an operation. Surgical oncologists also perform certain types of biopsies.
Depending on your case, you may see one or a combination of those doctors.
What are the potential side effects of prostate cancer treatment?
There are possible risks and potential side effects with any type of treatment for prostate cancer. They include incontinence, urinary issues, sexual dysfunction, hot flashes, hair loss, nausea and fatigue. Other side effects are also possible, depending on the type of treatment. Some of these may be temporary, while others are long term.