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Prostate Cancer Awareness

Photo of a doctor with his patient

The prostate is a walnut-sized organ located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum in men. It produces fluid that makes up a part of semen.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men. Most prostate cancers grow slowly, and don’t cause any health problems in men who have them. Learn about prostate cancer and talk to your doctor before you decide to get tested or treated.

Symptoms

Men can have different symptoms for prostate cancer. Some men do not have symptoms at all. Some symptoms of prostate cancer are difficulty starting urination, frequent urination (especially at night), weak or interrupted flow of urine, and blood in the urine or semen.

Risk Factors

There is no way to know for sure if you will get prostate cancer. Men have a greater chance of getting prostate cancer if they are 50 years old or older, are African-American, or have a father, brother, or son who has had prostate cancer.

Screening Tests

Two tests are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer—

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE): A doctor, nurse, or other health care professional places a gloved finger into the rectum to feel the size, shape, and hardness of the prostate gland.
  • Prostate specific antigen test (PSA): PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in the blood, which may be higher in men who have prostate cancer. However, other conditions such as an enlarged prostate, prostate infections, and certain medical procedures also may increase PSA levels.

Not all medical experts agree that screening for prostate cancer will save lives. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against PSA-based screening for men who do not have symptoms. The potential benefit of prostate cancer screening is early detection of cancer, which may make treatment more effective. Potential risks include false positive test results (the test says you have cancer when you do not), treatment of prostate cancers that may never affect your health, and mild to serious side effects from treatment of prostate cancer.

Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of prostate cancer screening.

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