Prostate cancer is a common cancer that occurs exclusively in men. In fact, 13 out of every 100 men in the United States will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. Here's what you need to know about prostate cancer and prostate cancer testing.
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the prostate gland, which is a part of the male reproductive system.
Are there different types of prostate cancer?
There are two main types of prostate cancer:
- Invasive prostate cancer. This type of prostate cancer spreads from the prostate to other parts of the body, such as the bones.
- Non-invasive prostate cancer. This type of prostate cancer stays in the prostate and does not spread to other parts of the body.
Both require early detection and treatment.
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
Prostate cancer testing usually involves a digital rectal exam, a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, and a biopsy.
A digital rectal exam is an exam of the prostate gland that is done with a gloved finger. The doctor inserts the finger into the rectum and feels the prostate for any lumps or abnormal areas.
A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test measures the level of a certain protein that is produced by the prostate gland. A high level in the blood may be a sign of prostate cancer.
If anything abnormal occurs during the above two steps, a biopsy is performed that includes removing a small piece of tissue to examine under a microscope. A biopsy is the only way to diagnose prostate cancer.
How is prostate cancer treated?
The treatment for prostate cancer depends on the stage of cancer and the age and health of the man. Some men with early-stage prostate cancer may not need treatment right away. They may only need to be monitored with regular PSA tests and digital rectal exams. This is called active surveillance.
If treatment is needed, the most common treatments are surgery, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. Prostate cancer surgery involves removing the prostate gland. The prostate gland helps produce semen. This means that, after surgery, a man will no longer be able to ejaculate.
What are some signs you might have prostate cancer?
Some common symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Trouble urinating
- Decreased force in the stream of urine
- Blood in the urine
- Blood in the semen
- Pain or burning during urination
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Difficulty getting an erection
- Pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
- Loss of weight without trying
These symptoms may be caused by other conditions, so it's important to see a doctor if you have any of them. There often are no early signs or symptoms of prostate cancer. In fact, cancer may be found on a digital rectal exam or PSA test before there are any symptoms.
If you are over the age of 50, you should talk to your doctor about getting screened for prostate cancer at a health care clinic today.
Contact your doctor to learn more about prostate cancer testing.