by Katelyn Schwanke
(last updated September 5, 2008)
Prostate cancer is found in the prostate where seminal fluid for protecting sperm is found. Although prostate cancer is least common in Asian countries and Europe, rates of prostate cancer are most common in the United States. Understanding risk, symptoms and treatment are important for your health.
Risk factors for prostate cancer include age, family history, ethnicity, hormone levels and previous surgeries. If you are fifty or older, your risk of prostate cancer is increased and will continue to rise substantially as you age. If prostate cancer is in your family history, your risk is also increased. High levels of testosterone increase your risk because this hormone naturally increases the size of the prostate; excess amounts of testosterone could create damaged cellular growth. Your ethnicity may also be a risk factor if you are African American. The last major risk factor is if you have had a vasectomy (surgery to become infertile). If you identify with any of these risk factors you should be regularly screened by your doctor.
Obvious symptoms of prostate cancer do not appear until late stages of the cancer's development so it is important for you to be able to identify slight changes that might indicate cancer. If the cancer is just in the prostate you will find it painful to urinate, you will urinate more frequently and potentially have blood in the urine. Sexual function is also affected; prostate cancer can make erections painful. If the cancer has spread to other tissues in your body you will notice bone pain, an inability to control urination and leg weakness.
If your doctor does not catch prostate cancer through regular screenings he will do a biopsy (taking a tissue sample from the prostate) and potentially an x-ray to determine if the cancer has spread. Surgery, hormone therapy (reducing levels of the male hormone testosterone) and radiation will aid you in recovery.
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