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Prostate Cancer

The prostate gland, a key part of the male reproductive system, is linked closely with the urinary system. It is a small gland that secretes much of the liquid portion of semen, the milky fluid that transports sperm through the penis during ejaculation.

The prostate is located just beneath the bladder, where urine is stored, and in front of the rectum. It encircles a section of the urethra like a donut. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the penis. During ejaculation, semen is secreted by the prostate through small pores of the urethra's walls.

The prostate is made up of three lobes encased in an outer covering, or capsule. It is flanked on either side by the seminal vesicles, a pair of pouch-like glands that contribute secretions to the semen. Next to the seminal vesicles run the two vas deferens, tubes that carry sperm from the testicles. The testicles, in addition to manufacturing sperm, produce testosterone, a male sex hormone that controls the prostate's growth and function.

Male hormones cause the prostate gland to develop in the fetus. The prostate continues to grow as a boy progresses to manhood. If male hormone levels are low, the prostate gland will not grow to full size. In older men, the part of the prostate around the urethra often persists in growing. This causes BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), which can result in urination problems.

About Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the prostate. The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system 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 prostate gland produces fluid that is one of the components of semen.


Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin malignancy in men and is responsible for more deaths than any other cancer, except for lung cancer. However, microscopic evidence of prostate cancer is found at autopsy in many, if not most men. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimated that about 218,890 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the United States during 2007. About one man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, but only one in 34 will die of it. A little over 1.8 million men in the United States are survivors of prostate cancer.

Prognosis & Treatment

Treatment options and prognosis depend on the stage of the cancer, the Gleason score and the patient’s age and general health. With greater public awareness, early detection is on the rise and mortality rates are declining. Additionally, new advances in medical technology are enabling cancer patients to return to active and productive lives after their treatment.

Causes and Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

While there's no single perspective on what causes prostate cancer, there are some risk factors that may increase your chances of developing the disease. Knowing the potential causes may encourage individuals exhibiting one or more risk factors to make lifestyle and diet changes if possible. Risk factors for prostate cancer include:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer in its earliest stages often does not exhibit any symptoms. More advanced forms of prostate cancer may result in urination abnormalities, such as increased frequency, incontinence, pain and the presence of blood. Keep in mind that other, non-cancerous prostate diseases may cause similar symptoms, so it's important to consult a doctor if you experience these warning signs and undergo prostate cancer screenings as directed by a medical professional.

Prostate Cancer Treatments

There are currently five major treatment options available for prostate cancer. These treatments include:

  • Prostatectomy (removal of the prostate)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Watchful waiting
  • Hormone therapy (androgen deprivation therapy)
  • Cryosurgery (freezing and killing cancer cells with liquid nitrogen)
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