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Prostate Cancer - Understanding Your Risk


Prostate cancer is considered one of the most common forms of cancer among men; but to more than 2 million men in the United States who count themselves as prostate cancer survivors, their cancer diagnosis and treatment feels anything but common.

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer can start anywhere in the body. Prostate cancer develops when an overgrowth of abnormal cells occurs within the prostate gland in men. The prostate gland is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The urethra, which is the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body through the penis, runs through the center of the prostate. The prostate gland, which is responsible for producing some of the fluid found in semen, measures about the size of a walnut for younger men and increases in size as men age.

Who is at risk of developing prostate cancer?

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, there are several risk factors for developing prostate cancer, some of which are outside of an individual’s control such as age, race, and family history.


One in seven American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. For men under the age of 40 the rate of diagnosis is 1 in 10,000. That rate increases dramatically with age, increasing to 1 in 38 for men ages 40 to 59, and 1 in 14 for men ages 60 to 69. More than 65% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65.


African-American men and Caribbean men of African ancestry are more likely to develop prostate cancer than men of other races. Prostate cancer occurs less often in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic Caucasian men. Asian men who live in Asia have the lowest risk of developing prostate cancer. The reasons for these racial and ethnic differences are not clear.

Family History

Similar to other health conditions and diseases, a family history of prostate cancer can increase a man’s risk of developing the disease. Men with a father, brother, or several affected relatives are at a greater risk of developing prostate cancer than men with no family history of the disease. This risk is further increased if the cancer was diagnosed in family members at a younger age (less than 55 years of age) or if it affected three or more family members.

Other common risk factors such as diet, obesity, smoking, sexual history/sexually transmitted infections, chemical exposure, or lack of physical activity do not increase a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. However, they can increase the likelihood of developing a more aggressive form of prostate cancer.

How are men screened for prostate cancer?

The two most common screening mechanisms for prostate cancer are a physical exam carried out by a physician and a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test. Both of these screening tools detect prostate abnormalities or prostate cancer warning signs. They do not confirm a prostate cancer diagnosis. If abnormal results are found after a screening, a prostate biopsy may be performed to see if cancer is present.

According to the American Cancer Society, men should discuss prostate cancer screenings with their healthcare provider after they have received information about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening. For men who are over the age of 40 and are at increased risk of developing prostate cancer due to family history and other risk factors, talk to your healthcare provider about your options for screening.

The decision to be screened for prostate cancer is personal, and should be discussed with your healthcare provider to determine what’s right for you.

What are some common signs and symptoms of prostate cancer?

In the early stages of prostate cancer, many men will not experience any symptoms of the disease. Typically, prostate cancer is detected by a doctor during a routine screening.

For men who do experience signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, those symptoms may include:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs

While these symptoms are not always an indication of prostate cancer, they should be evaluated by a healthcare provider to rule out prostate cancer and treat the cause of your symptoms.

What’s next?

If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you’re not alone. Monocacy Health Partners Oncology Care Consultants are available to work closely with your primary care physician to provide you with comprehensive and compassionate medical care.

According to Dr. Mark G. Goldstein, oncologist at MHP Oncology Care Consultants, and a Certified Member of MD Anderson Physician Network, “when caught early, prostate cancer usually has an excellent prognosis. For patients with high-risk prostate cancer or metastatic prostate cancer, advances in treatment are improving outcomes. At the FRHS Regional Cancer Therapy Center, we offer a multi-disciplinary team approach, which is vital to a patient’s success.” To learn more about Monocacy Health Partners Oncology Care Consultants, visit