Prostate Cancer – Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment of Prostate Cancer – NY Times Health Information, prostate

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Health Guide

  • Overview
    • Alternative Names
    • Causes
    • Symptoms
    • Treatment
    • Support Groups
    • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Prevention
    • References
  • In-Depth Report
  • Reporter’s File
  • Expert Q & A
  • Questions for Your Doctor
  • Clinical Trials

Web Links

Prostate cancer is cancer that starts in the prostate gland. The prostate is a small, walnut-sized structure that makes up part of a man’s reproductive system. It wraps around the urethra. This is the tube that carries urine out of the body.

Recent findings and perspectives on medical research.

Prostate cancer proton treatment

Detection Comes Earlier, and So Do Tough Questions

The advent of the P.S.A. test changed prostate care, but its limitations have become evident.

  • Expert Q & A
  • Notes from the Center of an Epidemic
  • Questions for Your Doctor
  • What to Ask About Prostate Cancer
  • Clinical Trials
  • Selected Studies: Prostate Cancer

Back to TopAlternative Names

Cancer – prostate; Biopsy – prostate; Prostate biopsy; Gleason score

Back to TopCauses

Prostate cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer in men over age 75. Prostate cancer is rarely found in men younger than 40.

People who are at high risk include:

  • African American men, who are also more likely to develop this cancer at every age
  • Men who are older than 60
  • Men who have a father or brother with prostate cancer

Other people at risk include:

  • Men who have been around Agent Orange
  • Men who use too much alcohol
  • Farmers
  • Men who eat a diet high in fat, especially animal fat
  • Obese men
  • Tire plant workers
  • Painters
  • Men who have been around cadmium

Prostate cancer is less common in people who do not eat meat (vegetarians).

A common problem in almost all men as they grow older is an enlarged prostate. This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. It does not raise your risk of prostate cancer. But it can increase your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test result.

Back to TopSymptoms

With early prostate cancer, there are often no symptoms.

The PSA blood test may done to screen men for prostate cancer. Often, PSA level rises before there are any symptoms.

The symptoms listed below can occur with prostate cancer as it grows larger in the prostate. These symptoms can also be caused by other prostate problems:

  • Delayed or slowed start of urinary stream
  • Dribbling or leakage of urine, most often after urinating
  • Slow urinary stream
  • Straining when urinating, or not being able to empty all of the urine
  • Blood in the urine or semen

When the cancer has spread, there may be bone pain or tenderness, most often in the lower back and pelvic bones.

Back to TopTreatment

Treatment depends on many things, including your Gleason score and your overall health. Your doctor will discuss your treatment options.

If the cancer has not spread outside the prostate gland, common treatments include:

  • Surgery (radical prostatectomy)
  • Radiation therapy, including brachytherapy and proton therapy

If you are older, your doctor may recommend simply monitoring the cancer with PSA tests and biopsies.

If the prostate cancer has spread, treatment may include hormone therapy (medicines to reduce testosterone levels). It may be used for all but the earliest stage of prostate cancer. It may be given before, along with, or after other treatments.

If prostate cancer spreads even after hormone therapy, surgery, or radiation has been tried, treatment may include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy (medicine to trigger the immune system to attack and kill cancer cells)

Surgery, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy can affect your sexual performance. Problems with urine control are possible after surgery and radiation therapy. Discuss your concerns with your health care provider.

After treatment for prostate cancer, you will be closely watched to make sure the cancer does not spread. This involves routine checkups, including PSA blood tests (usually every 3 months to 1 year).

Back to TopSupport Groups

You can ease the stress of illness by joining a prostate cancer support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.

Back to TopWhen to Contact a Medical Professional

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of PSA screening with your health care provider.

Back to TopPrevention

Talk with your health care provider about possible ways to lower your risk of prostate cancer. These may include lifestyle measures, such as diet and exercise.

Taking extra vitamin E has not been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and may increase the risk. Talk with your doctor before taking larger doses of this vitamin.

There are no medicines approved by the FDA for preventing prostate cancer.

Back to TopReferences

American Urological Association Education and Research, Inc. PSA testing for the pretreatment staging and posttreatment management of prostate cancer: 2013 Revision of 2009 Best Practice Statement . Linthicum, MD: American Urological Association Education and Research, Inc. 2013. Available at: Accessed October 3, 2013.

Drake CG. Immunotherapy for prostate cancer: an emerging treatment modality. Urol Clin N Am . 2010:37121 37129.

Eastham JA, Scardino PT. Expectant management of prostate cancer. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Novick AC, et al., eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology . 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 101.

Klein EA, Thompson IM Jr, Tangen CM, et al. Vitamin E and the risk of prostate cancer: the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). JAMA . 2011;306:1549-1556.

Loeb S, Carter HB. Early detection, diagnosis, and staging of prostate cancer. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Novick AC, et al., eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology . 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 99.

National Cancer Institute: PDQ Prostate Cancer Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified 08/15/2013. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2013.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines): Prostate cancer. Version 4.2013. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2013.

Nelson WG, Carter HB, DeWeese TL, Eisenberger MA. Prostate cancer. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Abeloff s Clinical Oncology . 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 88.

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