Men’s Guide to Prostate Changes, Part 3: Prostate Cancer


Based on the “Understanding Prostate Changes: A Health Guide for Men page of the National Cancer Institute website


Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose, Writer, Life Alert



This article discusses many prostate-related topics, ranging from the basics (what it is) to information about prostate changes that happen with age (common changes, how they are treated, and what one needs to know about testing for prostate changes, including cancer). Since negative changes become more likely the older we get, this information is especially relevant for senior citizens. (The article is broken up into five segments. This is part 3.) --Dr. Don Rose


Prostate Cancer

Things to know

Prostate cancer means that cancer cells form in the tissues of the prostate. It is the most common cancer in American men after skin cancer. Prostate cancer tends to grow slowly compared with most other cancers. Cell changes may begin 10, 20, or 30 years before a tumor gets big enough to cause symptoms. Eventually, cancer cells may spread (metastasize) throughout the body. By the time symptoms appear, the cancer may be more advanced.

By age 50, very few men have symptoms of prostate cancer, yet some precancerous or cancerous cells are present. More than half of all American men have some cancer in their prostate glands by the age of 80.

Most of these cancers never pose a problem. They either give no signs or symptoms or never become a serious threat to health.

A much smaller percentage of men are actually treated for prostate cancer. Most men with prostate cancer do not die from this disease.

·                  About 16 percent of American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives.

·                  Eight percent have serious symptoms.

·                  Three percent die of the disease.


Prostate cancer can sit quietly for years. That means most men with the disease have no obvious symptoms. When symptoms finally appear, they may be a lot like the symptoms of BPH.

Prostate Cancer Symptoms

·                  Trouble passing urine

·                  Frequent urge to pass urine, especially at night

·                  Weak or interrupted urine stream

·                  Pain or burning when passing urine

·                  Blood in the urine or semen

·                  Painful ejaculation

·                  Nagging pain in the back, hips, or pelvis

Prostate cancer can spread to the lymph nodes of the pelvis. Or it may spread throughout the body. It tends to spread to the bones. So bone pain, especially in the back, can be another symptom.

Risk factors

There are some risk factors linked to prostate cancer. A risk factor is something that can raise your chances of having a problem or disease. Having one or more risk factors doesn't mean that you will get prostate cancer. It just means that your risk of disease is greater.

·                  Age. Being 50 or older increases risk of prostate cancer.

·                  Race. African-American men are at highest risk of prostate cancer -- it tends to start at younger ages and grow faster than in men of other races. After African-American men, it is most common among white men, followed by Hispanic and Native American men. Asian-American men have the lowest rates of prostate cancer. Aside from race, all men can have other prostate cancer risk factors (aging, family history, and diet).

·                  Family history. Prostate cancer risk is 2 to 3 times higher for men whose fathers or brothers have had the disease. For example, risk is about 10 times higher for a man who has 3 immediate family members with prostate cancer. The younger a man is when he has prostate cancer, the greater the risk for his male family members. Prostate cancer risk also appears to be slightly higher for men whose mothers or sisters have had breast cancer.

·                  Diet. The risk of prostate cancer seems to be higher for men eating high-fat diets with few fruits and vegetables.

Can prostate cancer be prevented?

National research studies are looking at how prostate cancer can be prevented. There is some proof that the drug finasteride lowers your risk of getting prostate cancer, but whether it decreases the risk of dying of prostate cancer is still unclear.


Cancer Information Service (toll-free)


Telephone: 1–800–4–CANCER (1–800–422–6237)

TTY: 1–800–332–8615




NCI’s Web site:   

LiveHelp, NCI’s live online assistance:  


For more information about Medicare benefits, contact:
................1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse

Toll-free ................1-800-891-5390


This article is based on the webpage “Understanding Prostate Changes: A Health Guide for Men -- part of the National Cancer Institute website. The information provided here is, to the best of our knowledge, reliable and accurate. However, while Life Alert always strives to provide true, precise and consistent information, we cannot guarantee 100 percent accuracy. Readers are encouraged to review the original article, and use any resource links provided to gather more information before drawing conclusions and making decisions.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

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