Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions About Prostate Cancer
Prostate problems will affect ninety percent of all men by the time the reach
the age of eighty and in all too many cases the problem will be that of prostate
cancer. But just what is the prostate gland and what does it mean to be
diagnosed with prostate cancer? Here we look at the ten questions which are most
often asked by men who encounter prostate problems.
1. What is the prostate gland and what does it do?
The prostate gland is situated between the bladder and the rectum, partly
surrounding the urethra which carries urine from the bladder out of the body,
and forms part of the male reproductive system, making and storing fluid which
forms part of a man's semen. The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut in an adult.
2. What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer which normally appears late in life and
tends to be slow growing as a result of which many men, despite having prostate
cancer, in fact die of other unrelated conditions. This said, prostate cancer is
the second commonest form of cancer in the United States today and in 2006 some
235,000 men were diagnosed with the disease and approximately 27,000 men died from it.
3. Who is likely to contract prostate cancer?
Men in general are at risk of contracting prostate cancer although as it is an
age related disease it tends to appear only from about middle-age onwards with
the risk of contracting the disease increasing with age. Prostate cancer is more
likely to appear in black men and where there is a family history of the disease.
4. What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
In the early stages of the disease there are normally few if any symptoms and it
is possible to suffer from prostate cancer for many years without even knowing
it. When symptoms do start to appear they are likely to include such things as
difficulty in urinating, the need for frequent urination (especially at the
night), a poor flow or urine which tends to stop and start, painful urination,
blood in the urine or semen, pain when ejaculating and pain in the lower back,
hips or upper part of the thighs.
5. Are there other conditions which can mask the presence of prostate cancer?
Many older men suffer from an enlarged prostate which places pressure on both
the bladder and the urethra and interferes with the flow of urine and with
sexual function, producing many of the same symptoms that are seen in prostate
cancer. This condition is not however cancer but is a benign condition known as
benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH.
It is also quite common for the prostate gland to become infected and inflamed,
again producing similar symptoms, and this also benign condition is known as prostatitis.