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About Prostate Cancer

The Prostate

The prostate is one of the male sex glands. The other major sex glands in men are the testicles and the seminal vesicles. Together, these glands store and secrete the fluids that make up semen.

The prostate, about the size of a walnut, lies just below the bladder and surrounds the upper part of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder and semen from the sex glands out through the penis. As one of the sex glands, the prostate is affected by male sex hormones. These hormones stimulate the activity of the prostate and the replacement of prostate cells as they wear out. The chief male hormone is testosterone, which is produced almost entirely by the testes.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common non-cutaneous malignancy diagnosed in American men. One out of every 10 men will develop the disease during his lifetime. Although it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the United States, prostate cancer can be treated successfully. Typically, cancer begins in the outer part of the gland. Cancer that is confined within the prostate is called localized prostate cancer. Like other malignancies, however, prostate cancer may metastasize. Advanced disease may spread to the lymph nodes, bones, or other parts of the body.

Signs and Symptoms

In its early stages, prostate cancer may cause few urinary symptoms. As it progresses, it may cause a need to urinate frequently; urinary obstruction; a weak flow of urine; painful or burning urination; painful ejaculation; blood in urine or semen; and frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or extremities.