What You Need to Know About Prostate Cancer
Here's what most of us know about the prostate: Only men have prostate glands, a doctor should examine your prostate at some point and cancer can affect the organ. Other than that, many folks don't give the prostate much thought.
The problem? The prostate is the source of cancer for one in seven men and the second most common cancer among men. That's why it's important to learn more about your prostate and how to protect yourself from cancer.
What Does a Prostate Do?
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits below the bladder and surrounds the urethra (the tube through which urine and semen pass out of your body). The fluid it produces nourishes and transports sperm.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
In the early stages, prostate cancer doesn't cause any symptoms. Usually the disease grows slowly, but as it progresses to an advanced stage you may experience signs such as:
- Frequent urination
- Weak urine flow
- Erectile dysfunction
- Blood in urine or semen
- Pelvic discomfort
These signs can also indicate other illnesses. If you have any of them, you should see a specialist in urological services (a doctor who focuses on conditions of the male reproductive system) for an evaluation.
Because there are no early warning signs, it's important to get screened for prostate cancer, especially if you have risk factors like:
- Advanced age: Your risk of developing prostate cancer increases as you get older.
- Being African-American: Prostate cancer occurs more frequently in African-American men – and they're more likely to have an aggressive form of the disease.
- Family history: If prostate cancer or breast cancer runs in your family, you may have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
Starting at 45 years old, men should talk with their doctors about the risks and benefits of getting screened for prostate cancer. Screening typically includes a rectal exam to feel for prostate enlargement and nodules and a blood test, called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.
To learn more about your prostate and changes that happen as you age, watch our "Reasons to See a Urologist" video: