Prostate Cancer

The prostate, one of the male sex glands, is located below the bladder and above the rectum. About the size of a walnut, the prostate surrounds the first inch of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder.

Often there are no symptoms in the earliest stages of prostate cancer, but they may include frequent urination, especially at night, difficulty starting urination or holding back urine, inability to urinate, weak or interrupted flow of urine, painful or burning urination, blood in the urine, painful ejaculation or continuing pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs. A man experiencing any of these symptoms should see his doctor.

Risk Factors

  • Age — Prostate cancer is found mainly in men over age 55. The average age of patients at the time of diagnosis is 70.
  • Diet and Dietary Factors — Some evidence suggests that diets high in animal fat may increase the risk of prostate cancer while a diet high in fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk.
  • Family History — A man's risk for developing prostate cancer is higher if his father or brother has had the disease.
  • Race — The disease is much more common in African American men than in white men. It is less common in Asian and American Indian men.


  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Difficulty starting urination (or holding back urine)
  • Frequent pain or stiffness (lower back, hips or upper thighs)
  • Inability to urinate
  • Need to urinate frequently
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Painful urination
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine


Your physician will conduct a thorough examination, which might include a biopsy and one or more of the following procedures:

  • Blood Test — A blood test for prostate-specific antigen measures the levels of this substance in a blood sample.
  • Cystoscopy — This procedure looks into the urethra and bladder through a thin, lighted tube.
  • Digital Rectum Exam — The doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum and feels the prostate through the rectal wall for hard or lumpy areas.

Source: National Cancer Institute