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Prostate Cancer: Separating Fact From Fiction

Prostate Cancer: Separating Fact From Fiction

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system that contributes to the fluid that makes up semen. The walnut-sized gland is located beneath a man’s bladder. Prostate cancer is a major health concern for American men.

What cause prostate cancer?

On a case-by-case bases, doctors cannot say with certainty what causes prostate cancer, but some experts generally agree that diet- particularly diets high in fat- contributes to the risk. No proven link exits between prostate cancer and an active sex life, vasectomy, masturbation, use of alcohol or tobacco, circumcision or infertility.

What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?

The greatest risk factor is age. Prostate cancer affects mainly older men. Four out of five cases are diagnosed in men over age 65, but less than 1 percent in men under 50. Men whose relative have had prostate cancer are considered to be at high risk; having a father or brother with the disease more than double your risk. Prostate cancer occurs about 60 percent more often in African American men than in Caucasians. Research also suggests that high dietary fact may be contributing factor.

How is prostate cancer diagnosed?

The best way to detect prostate cancer in its early stages is with regular digital prostate exams and prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood tests. The American Urological Association recommended screening all men beginning at age 40 with annual PSA and rectal examination.

What are the treatments?

Since prostate cancer is often slow growing and may not be fatal in many men, some men – after discussing the options with their doctors-opt for “active surveillance.” This involves monitoring the prostate cancer for signs that it is becoming more aggressive in order to avoid some of the side effects from treatment. This approach used to be recommended for men who were older or had a short life expectancy, but is being used more commonly in younger men with no sign of aggressive disease. Depending on the stage of the disease at time of diagnosis, treatment may include a single therapy, or some combination of surgery, radiation therapy and hormone therapy. Localized prostate cancer can usually be cured with surgery or radiation therapy. The standard operation– a radical prostatectomy- involves removal of the prostate and seminal vesicle and the reconstructing the bladder neck and urethra. The robotic prostatectomy is a newer technique in which the surgery is performed by robotic arms controlled by the surgeon. This is as effective as open surgery with quicker recovery and less blood loss.

Categories: Health Tip

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