Prostate Cancer Maryland

What is prostate cancer?

happy older coupleProstate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in men, and is the second leading cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 230,900 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the United States every year. Before the introduction of the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test 75% of prostate cancer patients were diagnosed in the later, incurable stages. Now only about 25% of newly diagnosed cases are advanced cancer.

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a small gland that is part of the male reproductive system. A normal, healthy prostate is about the size and shape of a walnut. Its position in the body is just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The urethra- the tube that carries urine from the bladder and semen out through the penis- runs through the center of the prostate. The function of the prostate is to produce some of the seminal fluid that nourishes and carries sperm from the testicles and out of the penis during ejaculation. Because of its position an enlarged prostate can squeeze the urethra causing urinary problems.

Where does prostate cancer spread?

As the prostate cancer grows, it grows through the prostate, the prostate capsule and the fat that surround the prostate. It can also grow into the base of the bladder and into the seminal vesicles which are located adjacent to the prostate. The spread of cancer is known as metastasis. When cancer spreads outside of the capsule it usually goes to either the lymph nodes or the bones.

What options do I have for treating prostate cancer?

There are a number of different options for how prostate cancer can be treated, each has its own risks and benefits. Primarily patients choose between watchful waiting, surgery, and different types of radiation therapy. New emerging prostate cancer treatments such as HIFU-High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, are becoming increasingly popular because they are "non invasive and preserve patient quality of life".

Why are regular prostate check ups important?

Early prostate cancer has very few to no symptoms, so it can only be found through routine screenings. As men get older, especially over the age of 50, it is very important to be tested and to identify any abnormalities. Not all prostate problems are cancer, but prostate cancer is the most serious problem. Some prostate cancers are small and/or slow and do not progress beyond the prostate gland. Some are more aggressive and advance very rapidly. Treatment is more successful if it is started when the cancer is still small and is still contained within the prostate gland.

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