The uncontrolled growth of cells around the outer region of the prostate, which gives rise to the development of a malignant tumor, is called prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is common among American males. Over 250,000 cases are diagnosed in the United States every year.
Early signs of prostate cancer are difficult to detect. Symptoms only set in once the tumor spreads. Change in urination habits with increased frequency or dribbling are the first signs of prostate cancer. The cancer may spread from the prostate to nearby lymph nodes, bones or other organs, leading to a condition called metastasis. As a result, some men experience back pain. Once the cancer spreads beyond the prostate it is difficult to cure.
The growth of prostate cancer is relatively slow and may not be detected for many years. It also takes longer to spread beyond the prostate. However, a small percentage of patients experience more rapidly growing, aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know for sure which prostate cancers will grow slowly and which will grow aggressively; this further complicates treatment decisions.
The presence of cancer cells around the prostate determines the extent to which the cancer has spread. It affects the areas surrounding the prostate such as the seminal vesicle, lymph nodes, rectum and bones. Even when prostate cancer spreads to other areas, such as the bone, it is still considered to be prostate cancer and not bone cancer.
A variety of causes and contributing factors lead to prostate cancer. The major risk factors are age, race and family history. The chances of prostate cancer increase after the age of 50. The incidence of prostate cancer in Asian men is the lowest. Caucasian and African American men are the largest groups afflicted with the disease.
The prognosis for prostate cancer patients has improved over the years. The survival rates for all stages of prostate cancer have increased from 67% to 97%. Public awareness and early detection are the main reasons for the increase in survival rates.
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