Autopsy studies have shown microscopic evidence of prostate cancer in 15 to 30 percent of men over the age of 50 and in 60-70 percent of men who reach age 80. These numbers have led some experts to theorize that every man will develop some degree of prostate cancer, if he lives long enough.
The number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer has increased with widespread use of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test for screening. However, prostate cancer death rates began to decline and level off after 1993. Many experts believe that earlier detection of prostate cancer through routine screening is responsible for the declining death rates, and recent evidence supports this contention.
The prostate is a muscular, walnut-sized gland that surrounds the upper part of the urethra, the tube that transports urine and sperm out of the body. A part of the male reproductive system, the prostate secretes seminal fluid, a milky substance that combines with sperm produced in the testicles to form semen. During sexual climax, muscles in the prostate propel this mixture through the urethra and out through the penis.
Symptoms don’t typically appear until the latter stages of the disease and may include:
These symptoms may signal other noncancerous conditions, such as benign enlargement of the prostate. Along with prostate exams during routine physicals, it’s generally recommended that you begin PSA screening tests at age 50.
Treatment varies greatly and is influenced by many factors. Your age at the time of diagnosis, whether the cancer remains localized or has begun to spread, and your overall health all play a role in determining the best treatment option for your situation. Consultation with a urologist and radiation oncologist is imperative when making decisions about treatment for prostate cancer.
Treatment may include: