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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.





 

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Prostate Cancer

What Is Prostate Cancer?

Last modified: 
17/04/2013 - 14:38

Prostate cancer is cancer of the prostate gland. The prostate, a gland found only in males, is located under the bladder and in front of the rectum. Cancer is a disease in which cells grow out of control within the body, invading and destroying tissues and organs.

The prostate gland surrounds the neck of the bladder and the urethra, which is the tube that drains the bladder. In an adult man, the prostate is about the size of a walnut.

The prostate is one of three glands necessary for reproduction. The prostate produces a sticky, milky fluid of acids and enzymes. This fluid makes up about 15 percent of the total volume of the semen and helps to sustain the sperm cells that are created in the testicles. The prostate is surrounded by muscle, which contracts to ejaculate this fluid.

Prostate cancer begins in the cells of the prostate gland and can spread to other parts of the body, including the bladder, colon, rectum, and bone.

Need To Know:

Understanding the Terms

  • Malignancy is another term for cancer, which is the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the body.
  • tumor is created when the uncontrolled growth of cells destroys the body's tissues and forms masses of abnormal tissue.
  • When cancer cells that originate in one part of the body invade other parts, the process is called metastasis. If cancer is spreading, it is said to be metastasizing (moving from one part of the body to another).

Soon after prostate cancer is diagnosed, it must be determined:

  • How much cancer has developed in the prostate
  • Where it is located
  • How quickly it is developing
  • Whether it has spread beyond the prostate

The best chance at curing prostate cancer is to detect it early, before it metastasizes. Fortunately, a simple blood test and physical exam can help discover prostate cancer at its earliest stages.

Nice To Know:

Is prostate enlargement the same as prostate cancer?

No. As a man ages, the prostate can increase in size many times without becoming cancerous. The medical term for noncancerous prostate enlargement is benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH.

Prostate enlargement is not the same as prostate cancer, and BPH cannot "turn into" prostate cancer. However, BPH and prostate cancer can exist together. Even if cancer is not present, an enlarged prostate may cause other problems, such as interfering with a man's ability to urinate.

For further information about prostate enlargement, go to Prostate Enlargement.

Facts About Prostate Cancer

  • An estimated 189,000 men in the U.S. are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year.
  • One man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, but only one man in 30 will die of this disease.
  • Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the U.S. (lung cancer is first).
  • About 96 percent of all men diagnosed with prostate cancer survive at least five years, and 75 percent survive at least 10 years.
  • In men whose cancer has not spread beyond the prostate, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent.
  • Ethnicity and environment may affect the prevalence of prostate cancer. African American men are more likely to have prostate cancer than Caucasian men. Asian men living in Asia have very low rates of prostate cancer. However, when Asian men migrate to the west, their rates increase, leaving scientists to wonder about contributing factors such as environment and diet.

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

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Prostate Cancer