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).
Black men tend to have significantly higher rates of prostate cancer, and the disease tends to be more advanced and harder to cure at the time of diagnosis.
- Black men have a higher chance of dying from their prostate cancer and should therefore start prostate cancer screening with yearly PSA tests and physical exams at age 40, and even earlier if a strong family history of prostate cancer exists.
- In 2007, African American men were 1.4 times, respectively, more likely to have new cases of prostate cancer, as compared to non-Hispanic white men.
- African American men develop prostate cancer 60% more often than white men.
When you’re told you have prostate cancer, it’s natural to wonder what may have caused the disease. But no one knows the exact causes of prostate cancer. Doctors seldom know why one man develops prostate cancer and another doesn’t.
However, research has shown that men with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop prostate cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of getting a disease.
Studies have found the following risk factors for prostate cancer:
- Age over 65: Age is the main risk factor for prostate cancer. The chance of getting prostate cancer increases as you get older. In the United States, most men with prostate cancer are over 65. This disease is rare in men under 45.
- Family history: Your risk is higher if your father, brother, or son had prostate cancer.
- Race: Prostate cancer is more common among black men than white or Hispanic/Latino men. It’s less common among Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native men.
- Certain prostate changes: Men with cells called high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) may be at increased risk of prostate cancer. These prostate cells look abnormal under a microscope.
- Certain genome changes: Researchers have found specific regions on certain chromosomes that are linked to the risk of prostate cancer. According to recent studies, if a man has a genetic change in one or more of these regions, the risk of prostate cancer may be increased. The risk increases with the number of genetic changes that are found. Also, other studies have shown an elevated risk of prostate cancer among men with changes in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2.
- Having a risk factor doesn’t mean that a man will develop prostate cancer. Most men who have risk factors never develop the disease.
A man with prostate cancer may not have any symptoms. For men who do have symptoms, the common symptoms include:
- Urinary problems
– Not being able to pass urine
– 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
Most often, these symptoms are not due to cancer. BPH, an infection, or another health problem may cause them. If you have any of these symptoms, you should tell your doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated.
Exams and Tests
Black men have a higher chance of dying from their prostate cancer and should therefore start prostate cancer screening with yearly PSA tests and physical exams at age 40, and even earlier if a strong family history of prostate cancer exists.
Your doctor can check for prostate cancer before you have any symptoms. During an office visit, your doctor will ask about your personal and family medical history. You’ll have a physical exam, and may also have one or both of the following tests:
- Digital rectal exam: Your doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum and feels your prostate through the rectal wall. Your prostate is checked for hard or lumpy areas.
- Blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA): A lab checks the level of PSA in your blood sample. The prostate makes PSA. A high PSA level is commonly caused by BPH or prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate). Prostate cancer may also cause a high PSA level.
The digital rectal exam and PSA test are being studied in clinical trials to learn whether finding prostate cancer early can lower the number of deaths from this disease.
The digital rectal exam and PSA test can detect a problem in the prostate. However, they can’t show whether the problem is cancer or