The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system and is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is approximately the size of a golf ball and surrounds the urethra. Its function is to supply semen for protecting and nourishing sperm.
Male hormones can make the prostate grow in size, slowing or stopping the flow of urine from the bladder. Prostate growths can be benign, where the number of prostate cells is increased (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH) or the size of the prostate cells have grown (hypertrophy) or the growths can be malignant.
Prostate cancer is the second most prevalent form of cancer in men after skin cancer. One in six American men will have prostate cancer during his lifetime; totaling 242,000 in the United States in 2012. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age. It is more common in African American men than in white or Hispanic men. Family history may also increase risk. Researchers have recently found that changes to certain genes on your chromosomes may also be linked with higher risk. Almost nine out of ten cases are diagnosed at the early and highly treatable local stage.
Most frequently, early stage prostate cancers have no symptoms. Symptoms for later stage prostate cancer include difficulty urinating, weak urine flow, urinating urgency, difficulty having an erection and blood in the urine or semen. Your doctor can check for prostate cancer using a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal exam. Only a transrectal biopsy can confirm the diagnosis.