Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting men in the Western world. In 2007, the American Cancer Society projects there will be 218,890 new cases of prostate cancer (29 percent of all adult male cancers) and 27,050 deaths (9 percent of all male cancer deaths) from prostate cancer.

  • Prostate cancer incidence rates increased 192 percent between 1973 and 1992.
  • In the next 24 hours, prostate cancer will claim the lives of 83 American men. (National Prostate Cancer Coalition)
  • In Iowa, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death (11.6 percent) and the leading type of new cancer (27.5 percent) in males. (State Health Registry Cancer in Iowa: 2006)
  • After 10 years, about 97.9% of men diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer are still alive*, but only 17.6% of those diagnosed with advanced stage prostate cancer survive 10 years. This further suggests that screening and/or early diagnosis is beneficial. (*Not including those who died from other causes.)

"Prostate cancer is the leading type of cancer in men and the second leading cause of death in American males," says Richard Williams, M. D., professor and head of the University of Iowa Department of Urology.

"The good news is that the incidence rate has decreased by 5.1 percent and the death rate has decreased by 3.5 percent between 1992 and1998, suggesting that screening may work," says Williams.

The prostate is a male sex gland that produces a fluid that forms part of the semen. About the size of a walnut, the prostate is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

"Risk factors for prostate cancer include age, race, and heredity," says Carolyn Beelner, RN, O.C.N., with the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center's Cancer Information Service. "Simply growing older increases the likelihood of getting prostate cancer." The fastest growing group of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is the 50-to-60 age group.

African-American men have the world's highest incidence of prostate cancer--one-third higher than white Americans. Asian men have much lower rates.

If three relatives have the disease, you are 10 times more likely to get prostate cancer. If your father or your brother has prostate cancer, you are two to three times more likely to develop prostate cancer.

Compared with most cancers, prostate cancer tends to grow slowly and it may be decades from the time of the earliest cell changes detected under a microscope until the cancer causes symptoms. Early prostate cancer often doesn't exhibit any symptoms so regular examinations are especially important. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty starting or stopping urination
  • Inability to urinate
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Persistent pain in lower back, hips, upper thighs.

University of Iowa Health Science Relations and
Richard Williams, MD

Professor of Urology

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