The prostate is a small, squishy gland about the size of a ping-pong ball, located deep inside the groin, between the base of the penis and the rectum. The prostate is important for reproduction because it supplies the seminal fluid, which mixes with sperm from the testes. Seminal fluid helps the sperm to travel and survive.
WHAT IS PROSTATE CANCER?
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Usually, prostate cancer grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, while some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or even no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.
Prostate cancer that’s detected early when it’s still confined to the prostate gland has a better chance of successful treatment.
SYMPTOMS OF PROSTATE CANCER
Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms in its early stages. Males who do experience symptoms may notice:
- Difficulty starting and maintaining urination
- A frequent urge to urinate, especially at night
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Painful urination
- In some cases, pain on ejaculation
- Difficulty getting or maintaining an erection
- Pain or discomfort when sitting, if the prostate is enlarged
Research has linked several risk factors to prostate cancer. Some of these tie in with a person’s environment while others relate to their genetics or individual characteristics.
AGE: Your risk of prostate cancer increases as you age, especially after 50 years of age.
RACE: For reasons not yet determined, black men carry a greater risk of prostate cancer than do men of other races. In black men, prostate cancer is also more likely to be aggressive or advanced.
FAMILY HISTORY: If men in your family have had prostate cancer, your risk may be increased. Also, if you have a family history of genes that increase the risk of breast cancer or a very strong family history of breast cancer, your risk of prostate cancer may be higher.
OBESITY: Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be more likely to have advanced disease that’s more difficult to treat.
ANY CONNECTION BETWEEN PROSTATE CANCER AND ALCOHOL?
According to research on prostate cancer and alcohol consumption by a group from Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts, and the University of California, moderate alcohol intake is not associated with a higher risk of lethal prostate cancer. “Our results indicate that moderate alcohol intake among men with prostate cancer is not associated with a higher risk of progression to lethal disease or overall mortality,” the researchers reported.
While alcohol consumption may not directly cause prostate cancer, it is advised that one makes some lifestyle changes for healthier living. These changes may include reducing alcohol intake, doing more exercise and eating a healthful diet.