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Prostate cancer forms in tissues of the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system found below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Prostate cancer usually occurs in older men and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. It can be effectively treated when detected early.

The National Cancer Institute estimates for 2011:

  • New Cases: 240,890
  • Deaths: 33,720

Risk Factors

Although many risk factors can be avoided, it is important to keep in mind that avoiding risk factors does not guarantee you will not get cancer. Also, most people with a particular risk factor for cancer do not actually get the disease. Some people are more sensitive than others to factors that can cause cancer. Talk to your health care provider about methods of preventing cancer that might be effective for you.


In the United States, it is estimated that one in 38 men between the ages of 40 and 59 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. The most common risk factor for prostate cancer is age.


Blacks are in the highest risk group, with a rate of more than 233 cases per 100,000 black men. Whites are the second highest risk group followed by Hispanics. Blacks are likely to have more advanced disease and have a poorer overall cure rate than whites.

Family History

Men with a family history of prostate cancer are at an increased risk of developing the disease. This risk can be linked with the number of first-degree relatives (father, brother or uncle) affected by prostate cancer and the age at onset.


There is also proof showing that prostate cancer is more common in men with a diet high in fat. Men who eat a diet including fruits and vegetables may have a lower risk.

Signs and Symptoms

Prostate cancer often does not cause symptoms for many years. By the time symptoms occur, the disease may have spread beyond the prostate. When symptoms do occur, they may include the following:

Not being able to urinate

  • Having a hard time starting or stopping the urine flow
  • Needing to urinate often, especially at night
  • Weak flow of urine
  • Urine flow that starts and stops
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Difficulty having an erection
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Frequent pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs

These can be symptoms of cancer, but more often they are symptoms of noncancerous conditions. It is important to check with a health care provider.

Many men with prostate cancer often have no symptoms. The diagnosis of prostate cancer can be confirmed only by a biopsy.

What Can You Do?

Be sure to talk with your health care provider at what age you should start prostate exams and/or PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test. This should include a rectal exam. Your health care provider can check you for prostate cancer before you have any symptoms. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread. Screening can help health care providers find and treat cancer early.

Tobacco Cessation

The use of tobacco in any form is a great health concern. Even if you don't smoke, reduce your exposure to secondhand smoke. If you use tobacco products, prepare yourself to quit as soon as possible.

  • Set a date to stop and mark it on your calendar. Twenty-four hours before the start date make everyone aware of your goal to stop.
  • Remove the smell of tobacco by cleaning your house and car. Remember to get rid of lighters, ashtrays and matches.
  • You can use over-the-counter aids such as nicotine patches and gum. Contact your health insurance provider to see if Nicotine replacement therapy is a covered service.
  • Know what your triggers are that make you want to use tobacco products and be prepared with chewing gum, celery or carrot sticks.
  • Kentucky has a free Quit Now program that helps you quit using tobacco products. You can contact the Quit Now program at (800) 784-8669.