We have prepared this page to provide general information about Prostate Cancer, screening, risk factors and services. We have literature about prostate cancer available in French, Spanish, and Somali. Please contact us to get this information.
Please see "Health Information & Talking Points with Your Doctor," a new publication that attempts to answer the question people frequently ask us: "What should we do about prevention, testing and treatments for cancer?"
We invite you to also access information for the women partners of men who have been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer on The Woman's Page.
The Gay and Bisexual Man's page includes resources for gay or bisexual men with Prostate Cancer.
Please also see the Prostate Cancer Screening Information page which provides the latest information about screening and treatment and read about Active Surveillance on this new resource page.
Bone Health and Prostate Cancer: The recent report recognizes the importance of addressing bone health as a part of prostate cancer treatment, and the need for improved dialogue between patients and their healthcare providers on the subject. The results of the survey of patients, urologists and medical oncologists, along with in-depth interviews with men with prostate cancer, are included in this informative brochure. Read the "Report About Prostate Cancer’s Impact on Bones: Bone Health In Focus"
General Information about Prostate Cancer
What is the Prostate?
The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. About the size of a walnut, the prostate is located just below the bladder, in front of the rectum and wraps around the urethra. The main purpose of the prostate is to produce semen.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is an uncontrolled growth of cells in the prostate gland that may spread to other parts of the body. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men and strikes one in six American men. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that each year 1,460 Maine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 170 will die of the disease. By comparison, 1,040 Maine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 200 will die of the disease.
What are the Symptoms?
Prostate cancer presents few symptoms. In rare cases the following may occur:
- Frequent urination
- Inability to urinate
- Trouble starting/holding back urine
- Weak/interrupted urine flow
- Blood in urine or semen
- Frequent lower back/hip/thigh pain
Because these symptoms can also be caused by other disorders, men should undergo a complete medical exam to determine the underlying cause.
Screening and Risk Factors
There are various national recommendations for prostate cancer screening. The ACS recommends that doctors offer prostate cancer screening yearly, beginning at age 50 for men who do not have other major medical problems and who can be expected to live at least 10 more years. Men at higher risk should begin testing at age 45.
The Maine Coalition to Fight Prostate Cancer follows guidelines set by the National Alliance of State Prostate Cancer Coalitions. This group recommends that men obtain a baseline screening at age 40 and then annually. Men in the following high-risk groups should begin screening at age 35.
- African American men
- Men with a family history of prostate cancer
- Men who eat a high fat diet
According to the National Cancer Institute, cases diagnosed early have a 100% chance of survival for at least five years. Cases diagnosed late, when the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, have only a 33% chance of survival after five year's.
Types of Screening
Screening for prostate cancer can be performed quickly and easily using a combination two tests: a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. If the physician feels something abnormal in the DRE, or the PSA number is suspicious, the diagnosis of prostate cancer must be confirmed by a biopsy. The PSA blood test is very simple, and the DRE is brief and practically painless ... and they can save your life.
Pain Managed Biopsies
Prior to your prostate biopsy, we suggest you discuss the question of "pain management" with your doctor as you have the option of an anesthetic for this procedure. Biopsies with a local anesthetic are well tolerated and there are various forms of anesthetic available.
We also suggest you ask your doctor to explain what will occur during the procedure and what to expect after the biopsy. If you wish you could also ask your physician if a spouse, partner or friend could stay with you.
If prostate cancer is diagnosed, there are numerous treatment options for men. Treatment choices for men with early-stage cancer include active surveillance. There are many forms of surgery including robotic, retropubic prostatectomy and cryosurgery. Radiation therapy might be either external beam or brachytherapy. Hormone therapy is also a choice. New treatments are always being developed. The patient, his family and his physician must evaluate each option carefully to select the treatment that is best for his age, stage of the disease, side effects and overall health. The Maine Coalition to Fight Prostate Cancer encourages all men to get early, annual screenings for prostate cancer and to educate themselves about this disease.
Choosing a Physician
Your family doctor or internist will be your partners in helping you navigate the system and can recommend urologists and oncologists (doctors who specialize in cancer and it's treatment) as needed.
Prostate Cancer in Maine
Nearly 1,500 Maine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 170 will die of the disease this year. The incidence of prostate cancer increased 18% between 1990 and 2003. This increase may be due to improved screening and early detection. Despite the increase in the number of cases diagnosed each year, the mortality rate has declined 25% since 1990. Early detection and new treatments are saving the lives of men in Maine.
If You Do Nothing Else . . .
Tell a friend - early detection saves lives!
This is a link to a bibliography of suggested reading [PDF - plugin required] on the topic of prostate cancer.