What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer develops from the growth of cancerous cells within the prostate
gland. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the United States.
Prostate cancer is also the second leading cause of cancer death in American
men. There were approximately 180,000 patients diagnosed with prostate cancer in
1999, and about one fifth of them died of their disease.
Although the cause of prostate cancer is still unknown, it might be associated
with increased testosterone level, a family history of prostate cancer, high fat
diet, and age. Commonly diagnosed benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) does not
increase the risk of developing prostate cancer, according to most clinical
studies. Prostate cancers are relative rare in young patients. The risk for
prostate cancer increases significantly with age.
Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas. Other types of cancer, such as
transitional, squamous cell carcinomas, and small cell cancers are very rare.
The incidence of prostate cancer has rose continuously for more than two
decades. The rise in incidence is partially caused by improved detection
capability, especially using prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test.
Currently, 70-80% of prostate cancers are organ-confined at diagnosis.
Prostate cancer tends to arise from the peripheral zone of the prostate.
Patients are often asymptomatic at diagnosis. Early onset of obstructive urinary
symptoms are not very common due to the location of most prostate cancers.
At the time of diagnosis, the cancer can remain in the prostate gland
(localized) or spread (metastasize) to nearby lymph nodes, bladder, rectum or
more remote organs such as bone and liver. Bone is the most common site of
prostate cancer metastases. Metastases to other organs may occur but are quite
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