The prostate gland, found only in men, produces a fluid that mixes with sperm to create semen. In young men, it’s typically the size of a walnut but grows with a man’s age. The urethra, which carries urine and semen out of the body, runs through the center of the prostate gland.
Prostate cancer develops when cells in the prostate gland begin to grow uncontrollably. Almost every instance of prostate cancer is an adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that develops from the cells in the gland that make prostate fluid.
Rarely, prostate cancer presents as:
- Small cell carcinomas
- Neuroendocrine tumors (other than small cell carcinomas)
- Transitional cell carcinomas
Most cases of prostate cancer grow and spread slowly, but many men don’t even realize they have it because it’s a difficult cancer to detect. For this reason, it’s typically not diagnosed until later stages. However, when detected at an early stage and localized, most prostate cancers can be cured.
Signs and Symptoms
Early prostate cancer can be difficult to detect because there are usually no symptoms. Once the cancer becomes more advanced, the following symptoms are common:
- A slow or weak urine stream and/or the need to urinate more often, especially at night
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Trouble getting and/or sustaining an erection
- Pain in the hips, spine, ribcage, or other areas signifying cancer has spread to the bones
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet
It’s important to note that most of these symptoms can be caused by something other than prostate cancer. But if you’re experiencing any of these issues, you should make an appointment with a doctor so the cause can be found.
If your doctor suspects prostate cancer, he or she will likely perform a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test or a digital rectal exam (DRE). Based on the results, more tests, such as a prostate biopsy, will be done to confirm diagnosis.
Once you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may be referred to the Kelsey-Seybold Cancer Center where a multidisciplinary team will develop a treatment plan based on the type and stage of the cancer.
Your treatment plan may include:
- Radiation therapy
- Cryotherapy (cryosurgery)
- Hormone therapy
Because prostate cancer is difficult to detect in its early stages, it’s crucial to have regular prostate exams. The Urology team at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston can perform your annual prostate exam and any blood tests needed if you suspect you may have symptoms of or are at risk for prostate cancer.