What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is a disease in which normal cells in a man’s prostate gland change and grow uncontrollably, forming a mass called a tumor. As men get older, it becomes more and more important for them to keep a close eye on their prostate health. Studies show that most men over the age of 50 will be faced with some problem related to their prostate and 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime

It is estimated that approximately 200,000 new cases will be diagnosed each year. It is the most common non-skin cancer among men and more than 2 million men in the U.S. count themselves as prostate cancer survivors. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer death among men of all races.

What Are The Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer?

Men with prostate cancer may not experience any symptoms at all, so it is very important for men to see their physician regularly and have an annual prostate cancer screening.

If there are any symptoms, the most common ones are:

  • Difficult urination 
  • Frequent urination 
  • Inability to urinate 
  • Burning feeling or pain during urination 
  • Weak urine stream 
  • Pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs

Men should talk to their doctor about screening options for prostate cancer and be prepared to ask questions about different types of screenings and how often they should be tested.

How can Prostate Cancer be Treated?

Your doctor probably talked to you about a couple different types of treatment options for prostate cancer. The truth is that there are a lot of effective treatments for prostate cancer, but the same ones aren’t always right for everyone. Every man should talk to his doctor about what treatment is right for him based on his diagnosis and overall health.

Aggressiveness Scale

It may help to think of prostate cancer treatment options as a spectrum. Some treatments are geared toward monitoring the disease and only intervening if necessary, which minimizes side effects, but the cancer may still grow or spread. Other treatments are very aggressive, removing the cancer most effectively, but also lead to a higher risk of complications.


Men regularly visit their doctor and monitor the disease closely with frequent tests which include biopsies as needed. This is the least aggressive treatment option for men who are diagnosed early and cancer is expected to grow slowly.


High Intensity Focused Ultrasound is a non-invasive, outpatient procedure that uses focused sound waves to heat and destroy prostatic tissue. HIFU is a one-time treatment that takes 1-4 hours (depending on the size of the prostate gland) with no radiation or blood loss.


Targeted radiation energy is used to shrink or stall the growth of a tumor. External Beam Radiation (EBRT) is aimed from outside the body. Brachytherapy, also known as interstitial radiation therapy, uses radioactive seeds that are placed inside the prostate.


A Radical Prostatectomy completely removes the prostate, which can also include surrounding tissue. This invasive procedure is one of the most aggressive treatment options for prostate cancer and has relatively high rates of incontinence and erectile function.

Factors in Choosing Treatment

While prostate cancer is often very treatable, some treatment options may lead to side effects such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction that significantly impact quality of life. Other considerations include:

  • Size and location of tumor 
  • Whether or not cancer has spread outside of prostate 
  • Overall health

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