5 Apr
2011

Cancer of the prostate is the most common type of cancer in males today, after skin cancer. In 2000, 180,400 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed, and from these, about 32,000 men would die. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death.From 1980 to 1990, prostate cancer incidence rates increased by 65 percent, largely due to earlier diagnosis in men without symptoms. This was accomplished by increased use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood-test screenings and increased public awareness. Today, prostate cancer rates are declining.Most signs and symptoms of prostate cancer are nonspecific – that is, they mimic the signs of infection or enlarged prostate. Symptoms include weak or interrupted urine flow or difficulty starting or stopping the urine flow; the need to urinate frequently; pain or difficulty in urinating; blood in the urine; and pain in the lower back, pelvis, or upper thighs. Many males mistake these symptoms for other nonspecific conditions, such as infections, and delay treatment.Incidence of prostate cancer increases with age; over 75 percent of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over age 65, although increasing numbers of young men seem to be affected. Black Americans have the highest prostate cancer incidence rates in the world; the disease is more common in northwestern Europe and North America. It is rare in the Near East, Africa, Central America, and South America. There seems to be a slightly increased risk if a family member has the disease, but it is unclear whether this is due to genetic or environmental factors. Recent genetic studies suggest that strong familial predisposition may be responsible for 5-10 percent of prostate cancers. International studies suggest that dietary fat may also be a factor.Fortunately, even with so many generalized symptoms, most prostate cancers are detected while they are still localized and tend to progress slowly. Because most men detect cancer in their late 60s and early 70s, it is likely that they will die of other causes before prostate cancer leads to their deaths. For this reason, health care groups are beginning to question the cost effectiveness and necessity of prostate surgeries and other costly procedures that may have little real effect on life expectancy. Prostate patients have an average five-year survival rate of 80 percent. Because the incidence of prostate cancer increases with age, every man over the age of 40 should have an annual digital rectal prostate examination. In addition, the American Cancer Society recommends that men age 50 and older have an annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. If either result is suspicious, further evaluation in the form of transrectal ultrasound is recommended.*23/277/5*

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