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For men only - prostate cancer

Cancer of the prostate is the most common cancer for American men, especially those over age 50. The American Cancer Society estimates that some 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year, and that 38,000 men die of the disease.

The cause of prostate cancer is unknown and there is no known way to prevent it. However, studies suggest that you should eat foods low in fat, maintain your normal weight and exercise regularly.

Risk factors include your age - about 98 percent of prostate cancer is found in men over 55. African-American men are at higher risk than white men, and married men are at higher risk than unmarried men.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
In the early stages, when prostate cancer is a small, treatable tumor, there are no symptoms. When the growth becomes more advanced, these symptoms may appear:

  • Weak or interrupted urine flow.
  • Difficulty starting or stopping the flow of urine.
  • Increased need to urinate, especially at night.
  • Blood in your urine.
  • Pain or a burning feeling when urinating.
  • Constant pain in your lower back, hips or upper thighs.

How is prostate cancer diagnosed and treated?
The standard screening method is a digital rectal exam, in which your doctor examines the lower part of your prostate for any abnormal growths.

A blood test to measure a substance called prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a relatively new screening test for prostate cancer. As your prostate enlarges due to a cancerous growth, PSA levels rise. A PSA level of four or higher warrants further testing.

When should you see your doctor?
All men over the age of 40 should have an annual digital rectal examination, and after age 50, a yearly PSA blood test is recommended. Any symptoms suggesting prostate cancer should also be checked.

Remember, more than 85 percent of prostate cancer that is treated in an early stage is curable. Unfortunately, many cases of prostate cancer are not detected until the cancer has spread and reached an advanced stage.

The Baptist Health Louisville Cancer Resource Center offers a wealth of information on cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment. The Cancer Resource Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To reach the center, call (502) 896-3009 or fax (502) 896-3010. The Cancer Resource Center is a service of the Baptist Health Louisville Cancer Center.