Prostate Cancer Questions and Answers

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Q  What are the signs and symptoms of Prostate Cancer?

A  In the early stages, it usually does not cause any symptoms. It does not even cause pain. When symptoms do occur, the cancer is usually advanced. Symptoms are: frequent urination, difficulty starting urination, weak or interrupted flow of urine or burning upon urination, blood in the urine or semen and frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs.

Q  How many men per year get Prostate Cancer and how many men will die from it in the United States?

A  Last year 234,460 men were diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and 27,350 died from the disease according to the American Cancer Society. There is no way of telling how many men have Prostate Cancer and are unaware they have it.

Q  I understand that Prostate Cancer is divided into “stages”. What are they and what does it mean to have each of these stages of the disease?

A  Once Prostate Cancer is found, a test can be performed that will tell whether the cancer cells have spread from the prostate to nearby tissues or to other parts of the body. The process of figuring out how far the cancer has spread is called “staging”.

Stage 1) No symptoms and the cancer is less than 5% of the prostate.
Stage 2) Cancer is only in the prostate and more than 5% of the prostate.
Stage 3) Cancer has spread to the covering “capsule” of the prostate or the nearby glands that produce semen, the seminal vesicles.
Stage 4) Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body like the liver, lungs and even the bone.

Q  What is a Gleason Score and what does it mean?

A  In the United States and many other countries, after the pathologist examines the prostate tissue he grades it either very well differentiated which is a grade 1, to very poorly differentiated which is a grade 5. The lower the number, the better and less aggressive the cancer. The primary or the most common pattern is given a grade, than a secondary or second most common pattern is given a grade. There may often be only a single pure grade. So the lowest Gleason number would be 1+1=2. And the highest Gleason number would be 5+5=10. With a number like 2 most likely the cancer is not aggressive and would stay in the prostate. The number 10 means the cancer is very aggressive and could already be outside of the prostate in other parts of the body.

Q  Do African-Americans have more of a prostate cancer risk than Caucasians?

A  African-Americans have 60% more of a chance of developing Prostate Cancer than Caucasians. They also are more likely to have a family history of Prostate Cancer in men and Breast Cancer in women. A brother of a prostate cancer victim has five times more of a chance of also getting Prostate Cancer than a family who doesn’t. Collecting a family history of prostate and breast cancer, especially among siblings, could be a key component of assessing prostate cancer risk among African-American men.

Q  Is ejaculation good for prostate health?

A  Yes, the prostate has innumerable tiny glands located in its periphery. Their function is to drain prostate secretion through the tiny prostatic ducts into the urethra. Ninety percent of the fluid that comes out with ejaculation is prostatic fluid. With long periods of abstinence from ejaculation, the prostate may become filled with secretions. This condition is called congestion of the prostate.

 

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