Prostate Cancer

One of the most common cancers in men, prostate cancer can be treated successfully if caught early. Annual prostate screenings are your first defense against prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is rare in younger men, but your chance prostate cancer rises after age 50. African American men, and men with a father, brother, or son who was diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age, should start screenings at age 40. Men at average risk can start screenings at age 50.

Talk to your primary care physician about when you should start annual prostate checks based on your age, family history and ethnicity.

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Prostate cancer is rare in younger men, but your chance prostate cancer rises after age 50. About six in ten cases of prostate cancer are in men over the age of 65. Your physician will make recommendations based on your age, family history and ethnicity, since prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men and Caribbean men.


There are usually no early signs of prostate cancer. If you do have symptoms, they are due to blockages caused by the tumor. Symptoms can also be caused by non-cancerous conditions, like BPH or an enlarged prostate, and include:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting or stopping your urine stream
  • A weak urine stream
  • Leaking urine when laughing or coughing
  • Inability to urinate standing up
  • A painful or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation
  • Blood in your urine or semen

Symptoms of advanced prostate cancer may include:

  • Pain or stiffness in the pelvis, lower back, chest or upper thighs
  • Loss of weight and appetite
  • Fatigue
  • An upset stomach
  • Swelling in the lower extremities
  • Weakness or paralysis in the lower limbs, often with constipation


Two tests are initially used to diagnose prostate cancer: a PSA blood test and a digital rectal exam.

A PSA exam tests for prostate-specific antigen, a substance in the prostate that doctors use to monitor prostate function. Doctors generally consider levels under 4 to be normal. Your physician will also take into account age, race, and family history, and will likely recommend additional testing.

During your digital rectal exam, your doctor inserts a finger into your rectum to feel for any lumps. If something is found, they will likely recommend additional testing.

Additional tests that your doctors may perform are:

  • Prostate biopsy to check for cancer cells under a microscope.
  • Cystoscopy, or cystourethroscopy, to allow your physician to see any blockage or abnormal growths.
  • A CAT scan or MRI to let your physician see the prostate and nearby lymph nodes.


There are several treatment options available for prostate cancer. Before making a decision, you should talk with your primary care physician or urologist about factors such as your age, the stage of the cancer, any other health conditions and treatment side effects to decide which course of treatment is best.


Living a healthy lifestyle, keeping a healthy weight, eating right, not smoking, exercising and minimizing stress can greatly reduce your risk of cancer. Your risk of prostate cancer increases with age, family history, race, poor diet and some environmental factors.

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