Prostate cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in the prostate gland, a walnut-sized gland involved in the production of semen. It is located below a man’s bladder, in front of the rectum.
The exact cause of this condition is not known.
- Men over age 65.
- African-American men.
- Obese men.
- Have a family history of prostate cancer.
- Have a family history of breast cancer.
- A need to urinate often.
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine.
- Trouble starting or stopping urination.
- Inability to urinate.
- Pain or burning during urination.
- Painful ejaculation.
- Blood in urine or semen.
- Persistent pain or discomfort in the lower back, lower abdomen, hips, or upper thighs.
- Trouble getting an erection.
- Trouble emptying the bladder all the way.
Initial diagnosis may include:
- A digital rectal exam. For this exam, a health care provider inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland.
- A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test.
- A transrectal ultrasonogrphy imaging test.
- A procedure in which a sample of tissue is taken from the prostate and examined under a microscope (prostate biopsy).
Staging the cancer may include:
- A bone scan.
- A CT scan.
- A PET scan.
- An MRI.
The stages of prostate cancer are as follows:
- Stage I: The cancer is found in the prostate only. It is not visible on imaging tests and is usually found by accident, such as during a prostate surgery.
- Stage II: The cancer is more advanced than it is in stage I, but the cancer has not spread outside the prostate.
- Stage III: The cancer has spread beyond the outer layer of the prostate to nearby tissues. It may be found in the seminal vesicles, which are near the bladder and the prostate.
- Stage IV: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, bones, bladder, rectum, liver, or lungs.
Treatment for this condition depends on the stage of the cancer, your age, personal preferences, and your overall health. Common treatments include:
- Observation for early stage prostate cancer (active surveillance): This involves exams, blood tests, and in some cases, more biopsies. For some men, this is the only treatment needed.
- Open surgery uses a larger incision is to remove the prostate.
- Laparoscopic prostatectomy removes the prostate and lymph nodes through several, small incisions. It is often referred to as a minimally invasive surgery.
- Robotic prostatectomy removes the prostate and lymph nodes with the help of a robotic arm that is controlled by a computer.
- Orchiectomy is a surgery to remove the testicles.
- Cryosurgery is a surgery to freeze and destroy cancer cells.
- Radiation treatment:
- External beam radiation aims radiation beams from outside the body at the prostate to destroy cancerous cells.
- Brachytherapy uses radioactive needles, seeds, wires, or tubes that are implanted into the prostate gland to destroy cancerous cells. An advantage is that this type of radiation limits the damage to surrounding tissue and has fewer side effects.
- High-intensity, focused ultrasonography:
- This treatment destroys cancer cells by delivering high-energy ultrasound waves to the cancerous cells.
- Chemotherapy medicines:
- This treatment kills cancer cells or stops them from multiplying.
- Hormone treatment:
- This treatment involves taking medicines that act on testosterone, one of the male hormones, by stopping your body from producing testosterone or by blocking testosterone from reaching cancer cells.
Follow these instructions at home:
- Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Consider joining a support group for men who have prostate cancer, which may help you learn to cope with the stress of having cancer.
- Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider.
- If you have to go to the hospital, notify your cancer specialist (oncologist).
- Treatment for prostate cancer may affect sexual function. Continue to have intimate moments with your partner. This may include touching, holding, hugging, and caressing.
Contact a health care provider if:
- You have trouble urinating.
- You have blood in your urine.
- You have pain in your hips, back, or chest.
Seek immediate treatment if:
- You have weakness or numbness in your legs.
- You have cannot control urination or your bowel movements (incontinence).
- You have trouble breathing.
- You have sudden chest pain.
- You have chills or a fever.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider.