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Facts About Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a gland present in the reproductive system in men. It is about three centimeters long, and surrounds the urethra, at the neck of the bladder and in front of the rectum. As a man turns and passes fifty years old, this gland is susceptible to infection and to cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer in men in the United States, second only to lung cancer.


While researchers are still trying figure out what causes prostate cancer, they have identified a variety of factors with apparent correlations to the disease. Age is possibly the most common factor in risk for prostate cancer. Men over fifty are at greater risk for the disease than any other demographic. Heredity plays an important role in men's vulnerability to the disease. African American men are about 16% more likely to contract the disease than their Caucasian counterparts, and men whose fathers have had prostate cancer are considered high risk for contracting the disease themselves. Obese men and men who eat diets high in animal fats also have proven to be at higher risk for prostate cancer.


There are very few symptoms related to prostate cancer early in the development of the disease. However, as the cancer cells grow, and the prostate becomes enlarged, it squeezes the urethra, through which urine and semen must flow for discharge from the penis. For this reason, it will become difficult to urinate, and the urge to urinate will come more frequently, especially at night. There may be burning with urination or ejaculation, and there may be traces of blood in the urine and semen. Symptoms not related to the urethra include swelling of thighs, stiffness and a dull ache in the bones and joints around the pelvic area and lower back. Prostate cancer victims may experience weight loss, lack of appetite, and nausea and vomiting.


Treatment option for prostate cancer will depend on the overall health and age of the patient, and whether the cancer has remained isolated to the tumor or if it has spread. If the tumor has grown beyond the edge of the prostate, the only treatment available is through hormones which will decrease the slow the growth of the tumor. If caught early enough, physicians may conduct a radical prostatectomy, which is a surgical procedure by which the prostate and the nearby lymph nodes are removed. Under some circumstances, other less invasive treatments are available, promising varying results.


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