Prostate Cancer Facts and Prevention

Prostate cancer is the most curable in its early stages. At the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, we know that routine screenings save lives every day. Advocate for your health and talk with a health care professional to make an informed decision on which screenings are right for you.

What is prostate cancer?

  • The prostate is a walnut-sized organ located behind the bladder. It is part of the male reproductive system.
  • Prostate cancer is the growth of cancer cells in the prostate.
  • Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in males

Who can get prostate cancer?

  • Only men can develop prostate cancer.
  • Certain factors increase a man’s risk. Men at increased risk are:
    •   African Americans
    •   Age 50 or older (45 or older for African Americans).
    •   Those with a family history of prostate cancer, especially a father, son or brother with prostate cancer before age 65.
    •   Those with a high fat diet

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

  • Early stage prostate cancer usually does not have any symptoms.
  • The most common symptom is trouble with urination.
  • Difficulty in urinating does not mean you have prostate cancer. This could be a symptom of an infection or Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH), a common issue in men over 50.
  • Talk with a health care professional if you are having issues with urination. Only they can determine if you have an infection, BPH or prostate cancer.

Should you be checked for prostate cancer?

  • Talk with your health care provider about the benefits and risks of prostate cancer screening. Screening for prostate cancer may or may not be right for you
  • Consider prostate screening at age 45 if you are at an increased risk of prostate cancer and/or African American.
  • African American men have a two to three times greater death rate from prostate cancer than American men of European descent.
  • Consider prostate screening starting at age 50 if you are at an average risk of prostate cancer.
  • Men with less than a 10-year life expectancy should not be screened.

How should a man get checked for prostate cancer?

  • The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test and the digital rectal exam (DRE) are two tests that look for signs of prostate issues.
  • PSA is a specific substance in the blood produced by the prostate gland. An elevated PSA level may indicate a problem with the prostate.
  • The DRE allows health care providers to check for suspicious lumps or feel for any changes in the prostate.
  • If the PSA is elevated or if the DRE is abnormal, talk to your health care provider about the benefits and risks of a prostate biopsy. Only a prostate biopsy can confirm the presence of cancer.

What if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer?

  • Speak to your health care provider about your specific type of prostate cancer. On average, prostate cancer grows very slowly, and therefore there is no need to be hurried to make a decision about treatment.
  • When considering treatment for prostate cancer, it is important to take into account your age, overall health and life expectancy.
  • There are many different treatments for prostate cancer. Be sure to ask about all the different options.

How does a man lower his risk for prostate cancer?

Research is still being done to understand how to lower risk for prostate cancer.  Following these general guidelines may help with prostate cancer prevention:

  • Eat foods low in fat. Foods high in animal fat may increase your risk.
  • Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet.  Research has shown that a “heart-healthy” diet is a “prostate-healthy” diet

This information is intended to serve as a guideline only. Screening needs vary for each individual depending on your overall cancer risk. Please consult with a health care professional to decide which screenings are right for you and to make an informed decision.

More Information

If you would like to learn more about any of these topics call the Patient & Community Education department at 1-800-527-6266, or ask our prostate cancer specialists.