Cancer is the out-of-control growth of cells in your body. Cells are the tiny building blocks of your body. Cells specialize in what they do. Different organs are made of different kinds of cells. Almost any kind of cell can become cancerous.
The prostate is a gland found only in men. It's located just below a man’s bladder. The tube (urethra) that carries urine from the bladder and out the penis runs right through the middle of the prostate. The prostate also makes fluid that helps keep sperm healthy.
Prostate cancer is out-of-control growth of cells in your prostate.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men over 50 in the United States
Your chance of getting prostate cancer goes up as you get older
Prostate cancer may grow very slowly and cause no problems or it may grow quickly and be fatal
You usually have no symptoms for a long time
As the cancer gets bigger, you may have trouble peeing or see blood in your urine
Doctors may suggest screening tests for men over 50, or for those over 40 with risk factors
Doctors treat most prostate cancer with surgery or radiation therapy
Doctors may do screening tests to see if you have prostate cancer, even if you have no symptoms. Screening tests include:
Your PSA level usually goes up when you have prostate cancer. But your PSA can also go up from other causes.
If doctors suspect you have prostate cancer, they’ll do other tests:
If you have prostate cancer, doctors will give your cancer a number (Gleason score) from 1 to 5. The score is based on how abnormal the cancer cells look under the microscope. Cancers with a score of 5 are the most aggressive and very likely to spread. This score helps you and doctors decide on a treatment plan.
If you have bone pain or doctors think cancer may have spread to your bones, brain, or spinal cord, doctors will do:
Your doctors will work with you to decide which treatment is best for you. Recommended treatments depend on:
Options include the following:
Since prostate cancer with a low Gleason score grows very slowly, you may choose not to be treated right away, especially if you’re older. Older men with many health problems often die of those conditions before the prostate cancer gets bad. Doctors will do regular checkups and measure your PSA level. They'll do more biopsies to see whether your cancer is growing and needs treatment.
If you and your doctors think treatment will help you live longer or have fewer severe symptoms, they’ll do:
Surgery is done to remove your whole prostate. Some doctors do the surgery with the help of a surgical robot through a few tiny incisions. Other doctors make a larger incision by hand at the bottom of your belly.
There are several kinds of radiation therapy for prostate cancer. For example, some use beams of radiation. Others implant small radioactive pellets ("seeds") inside your prostate.
However, these treatments may have side effects. They can cause problems with erections (erectile dysfunction) or trouble controlling your urine.
If your cancer has spread outside your prostate, doctors don't do curative surgery or radiation. That's because those treatments don't help the cancer outside your prostate, so it's not worth the side effects. However, doctors will give treatments to slow the cancer down and relieve your symptoms. These treatments include:
No matter which choice you and your doctors make, doctors will usually check your PSA levels 1 to 3 times every year for the rest of your life.