Being diagnosed with prostate cancer can be frightening experience. However, learning more about the disease can help you to feel less anxious about it. Your most important task after being diagnosed is to get as much information as you can about your condition. Then, you and your doctor can discuss the best course of action. Due to the misconceptions that surrounds the disease and the array of treatment options available, making a decision can be complicated. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions concerning prostate cancer.
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer occurs when a malignant tumor forms in the tissue of the prostate. In its early stage, prostate cancer needs the male hormone testosterone to grow and thrive. Most prostate cancers develop relatively slow and won’t cause any symptoms. Fast-growing prostate cancer is less common. The risk of getting prostate cancer increases with age. The average age for diagnosis of prostate cancer is 69.
What causes prostate cancer?
Research has been unable to determine exactly what causes prostate cancer. However, research has been able to identify several risk factors that are associated with the disease.
What are the risk factors associated with prostate cancer?
Age – The disease is extremely rare in men under the age of 40, but the risk increases greatly after age 50. More than 60 percent of cases are diagnosed in men over age 65. The average age at the time of diagnosis is 65 years of age.
Family History – Men with an immediate blood relative, such as a father or brother, who has or had prostate cancer, are twice as likely to develop the disease. If there is another family member diagnosed with the disease, the chances of getting prostate cancer increase.
Race – Studies have shown that African American men are approximately 60 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetime than Caucasian or Hispanic men.
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a digital rectal exam (DRE) and take a blood test to measure your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. If the results are not normal, you may also undergo a transrectal ultrasound and transrectal biopsy.
Do high PSA levels mean I have prostate cancer?
Having high PSA levels doesn’t necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. It can also indicate the presence of a noncancerous condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. If your PSA levels are elevated, your doctor will perform other tests to determine what exactly is causing the elevated PSA levels.
Hopefully this information has been able to give you some insight into what prostate cancer is and at the same time put you at ease. Of course there’s a lot more information to cover, so be sure to read part two of this Q & A.