5 things every man should know about his prostate

Most men don’t like to talk about their prostate gland. Some avoid it at all costs, but with one in six U.S. men developing prostate cancer in his lifetime, it’s a topic worth discussing.

It’s one of the most common cancers in men; in fact, a man is 35 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer than a woman is to develop breast cancer, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. With this information top-of-mind, here are five things you should know about the disease and how to protect yourself.

1.  Early-stage prostate cancer often has no symptoms.

That’s why screening is important. In general, men should begin screening at age 50, but should talk to their doctors about starting earlier if they have a family history of the disease. Annual screening should include a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal exam.

2.  Not all cases are treated aggressively.

Prostate cancer is a very slow-growing form of cancer, much more so than lung, stomach and pancreatic cancer. Sometimes treatment involves merely keeping an eye on the cancer to see if it grows. The American Cancer Society refers to this as “active surveillance.”

3.  Treatment often includes surgery or radiation.

Radical prostatectomy is the surgical removal of the prostate as well as some surrounding tissue. It can be performed with an open incision or laparoscopically. Radiation can be delivered externally or internally, using radioactive “seeds” that are implanted in the prostate. Doctors say that all treatment methods have equal cure rates, and they all have associated side effects and risks.

4.  Not all side effects are permanent.

Side effects associated with prostate cancer treatment include fatigue, urinary incontinence and decreased sexual function. Fatigue typically goes away in the weeks following treatment. Incontinence is uncommon, and decreased sexual function is common, but both can be rehabilitated.

5.  Your chance of survival is good.


If the PSA is less than ten, about 90 percent of prostate cancers are detected before they have spread to other areas of the body. Nearly 100 percent of the cases found at this early stage are cured, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

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5 things every man should know about his prostate