Prostate Cancer

What Is the Prostate?

The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system, which includes the penis, prostate, and testicles. The prostate is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is about the size of a walnut and surrounds the urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder). The job of the prostate is to produce fluid that makes up a part of semen. As a man ages, the prostate tends to increase in size. This can cause the urethra to narrow and decrease urine flow.

What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is made up of cells that do not grow normally. The cells divide and create new cells that the body does not need, forming a mass of tissue called a tumor. These abnormal cells sometimes spread to other parts of the body, multiply, and cause death.

What causes prostate cancer?
As with many types of cancers, medical experts do not know what causes prostate cancer. They are studying several possible causes.

Can prostate cancer be prevented?
Medical experts do not know how to prevent prostate cancer. But they are studying many factors. They do know that not smoking, maintaining a healthy diet and staying physically active contribute to overall good health.

How common is prostate cancer?

For the general population, a man in his lifetime has about a:
• 16 percent chance (1 in 6) of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
• 3 percent chance (1 in 33) of dying from prostate cancer.
Who is at increased risk for prostate cancer?

While all men are at risk for prostate cancer, some factors increase risk:
• Family history. Men with a father or brother who has had prostate cancer are at greater risk for developing it themselves.
• Race. Prostate cancer is more common in some racial and ethnic groups than in others, but medical experts do not know why. Prostate cancer is more common in African-American men than in white men. It is less common in Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American men than in white men.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

Many men with prostate cancer often have no symptoms. If symptoms appear, they can include:
• Blood in the urine
• The need to urinate frequently, especially at night
• Weak or interrupted urine flow
• Pain or burning feeling while urinating
• The inability to urinate
• Constant pain in the lower back, pelvis, or upper thighs
Keep in mind that these symptoms are also caused by other prostate problems that are not cancer, such as an infection or an enlarged prostate.

Screening:
Two tests are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer—

Digital rectal exam (DRE): A doctor or nurse will insert a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate. This allows the examiner to estimate the size of the prostate and feel for any lumps or other abnormalities.

Prostate specific antigen test (PSA): The PSA test is a blood test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate.

What is the PSA test?
A small amount of blood is drawn from the arm and checked to see if the PSA level is normal. 
As a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. But many factors, such as age and race, can affect PSA levels.

Some prostate glands produce more PSA than others. PSA levels can also be affected by:
• Certain medical procedures
• An enlarged prostate
• A prostate infection

Is screening right for you?
The decision is yours. Some medical experts believe all men should be offered regular screening tests for prostate cancer. Other medical experts do not recommend screening.

How can I get tested?

You can order your own blood tests right now, without consulting a health care provider. Simply choose the PSA Profile, pay for it and our board-certified physician will authorize you to have the test performed. After you order the test, you will receive a laboratory requisition in your email that you can bring with you to more than 50 convenient Health Network Laboratory locations where we will draw your blood for testing.

When your results are ready, we will let you know. Your test results are secure, confidential and available to only you. You can choose if you want to share your results with anyone else, including your doctor.

Please note, we do not accept insurance at this time. 

(Information provided by the CDC)

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