Second to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men; approximately 300,000 men in the United States are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown. According to the American Cancer Society, an average American man has a 1 in 7 chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
Located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum, the prostate is a walnut sized gland that is part of the male reproductive system. The urethra, which is the tube that urine flows through, runs through the center of the prostate gland. The prostate gland produces prostatic fluid which, when mixed with sperm, produces semen.
Prostate cancer occurs when the prostate gland develops malignant cells. “Localized” prostate cancer is when the cancer remains inside the prostate. However, it is possible for the cancer to grow to surrounding tissue, or spread (metastasize) to the lymph nodes or bone. As with many forms of cancer, early detection provides the greatest chance of cure. For this reason, it is important for all men over the age of 50 (age 40 if you are African American or have a family history) to have regularly scheduled annual screening exams which include a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE).
For more information on prostate cancer, including risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis and prevention and early detection, visit the American Cancer Society website here.