After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the next most common cancer in men. Prostate cancer is marked by an uncontrolled (malignant) growth of cells in the prostate gland. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. The prostate is the walnut-sized gland in men, located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum, surrounding the urethra – the tube that carries urine out of the bladder.
Prostate cancer begins when some cells in your prostate become abnormal. Mutations in the abnormal cells' DNA cause the cells to grow and divide more rapidly than normal cells do. The abnormal cells continue living when other cells would die. The accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor that can grow to invade nearby tissue. Some abnormal cells can also break off and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
What are the risk factors?
Risk factors include men over 50 years of age, family history, ethnicity particularly African-Americans, and diet.
How is it diagnosed?
Prostate cancer is diagnosed by a digital rectal exam, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, and prostate biopsy.
What are the symptoms?
Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms in its early stages. Prostate cancer that's more advanced may cause signs and symptoms such as:
Generally, a healthy lifestyle and habits can prevent you from having prostate cancer. Men with a high risk of prostate cancer may consider medications or other treatments to reduce their risk. Some studies suggest that taking 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, including finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart), may reduce the overall risk of developing prostate cancer. These drugs are used to control prostate gland enlargement and hair loss in men.
However, some evidence indicates that men taking these medications may have an increased risk of getting a more serious form of prostate cancer (high-grade prostate cancer). If you're concerned about your risk of developing prostate cancer, talk with your doctor.