- Age: The risk of prostate cancer increases with age. Cancer is rarely seen in individuals younger than 40-50 years, and nearly 60 percent of prostate cancers are diagnosed in men older than 65 years.
- Race: African American men are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and to die from the disease.
- Family history: Men with a family history of prostate, breast, ovarian, colon, or pancreatic cancer may be at an increased risk of prostate cancer.
- Genetic mutations: Inherited mutations of BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene increase the risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer in some families.
- Diet and lifestyle: Studies have indicated that there may be a link between diet and the cause or prevention of prostate cancer. Lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption have been associated with prostate cancer. Obesity has also been linked to the development of the condition. Exposure to certain hazardous substances in the work environment may also increase the risk of prostate cancer.
- Chemical exposure: Exposure to certain chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides may have higher than average rates of prostate cancer. Veterans who were exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange are 49 percent more likely than non-exposed veterans to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- Firefighters: Recent studies have reported that firefighters are at a 28 percent higher risk of prostate cancer than the general population.
- High testosterone levels: An increase in testosterone levels stimulates the growth of the prostate gland, making some men more susceptible to prostate cancer.
- Vitamin D deficiency: Research shows that men who had vitamin D deficiency had an increased risk of prostate cancer.
The presence of one or more risk factors does not mean that an individual will definitely develop prostate cancer. It’s a good idea, however, to have regular prostate cancer screenings, especially when risk factors are present. Currently, prostate screening is recommended for men with average risk at ages 40-45 years.
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is cancer that develops in the prostate (a small walnut-shaped gland in men). It is one of the most common types of cancer among men. Prostate cancer develops when the DNA in a prostate gland cell is injured or mutated. This malignant cell begins to proliferate and form tumors, and, if untreated, prostate cancer may eventually metastasize or spread to other organs. The symptoms may include:
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Urinating often (especially at night)
- Difficulty urinating or holding back urine
- Inability to urinate
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Nagging pain in the back, hips, or pelvis
- Difficulty having an erection
- Unusual and unexplained weight loss
Prostate cancer stages:
- Stage I: The cancer is only in the prostate.
- Stage II: The tumor hasn’t spread beyond the prostate, but it is more advanced than Stage I.
- Stage III: The tumor has spread beyond the prostate, but it hasn’t reached the lymph nodes.
- Stage IV: The cancer may have spread to the bladder, rectum, lymph nodes, bones, or other parts of the body.
Treatment options: Not all prostate cancer requires treatment. Depending on the level of risk and stage of the disease, there are many different approaches to treat prostate cancer. Common approaches include:
- Active surveillance: This is often recommended for patients with low-grade prostate cancer. Prostate cancer can take a long time to grow. Active surveillance uses the latest imaging technologies to watch it and make sure it is not progressing.
- Surgical treatment options: Surgeons continually integrate innovative approaches into their practice to offer patients safer and more effective treatments. Minimally invasive surgical treatments include laparoscopic surgery and robotic-assisted surgery. Patients may also undergo removal of the prostate through more conventional surgery.
- Brachytherapy (radioactive seed implantation): In this treatment, radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate to give off radiation and provide localized treatment to the tumor.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): By targeting intense radiation on prostate tumors, urologists can minimize or even destroy them completely.
- Surgery, radiation, and hormonal therapy: These approaches can cause erectile dysfunction and other complications related to sexual health. However, within two years, most men regain their potency and return to the sex life they had before the treatment.